Gaigas build ‘pocket park’ for uptown

Uptown Port Alberni is about to get a bit more beautiful with the construction of a brand new pocket park at Third Avenue and Angus Street

An artist’s rendering shows the design of Central Park

An artist’s rendering shows the design of Central Park

Uptown Port Alberni is about to get a bit more beautiful with the construction of a brand new pocket park on the north-east corner of Angus Street and Third Avenue.

Formerly the site of the old Beaufort Hotel, the lot has been vacant for a number of years. Stacey Gaiga is taking the lot in a completely different direction.

“We’re in the process of transforming it into public green space as a pocket park,” Gaiga told city council on Monday night about Port Alberni’s new ‘Central Park.’

“It will help contribute to some of the Uptown revitalization efforts and initiatives that have been ongoing for a number of years.”

While the park will be small, its benefits will reach far outside its boundaries, she sad.

“Small parks can increase a sense of community by drawing people to spend time in a specific area,” said Gaiga.

“The value of nearby properties can increase and even attract investment.”

She’s been thrilled by the upwelling of community support she’s received so far, whether it be excitement on the streets or the monetary and in-kind donations from the city and local business.

Citing a study out of South Carolina, Gaiga said that “attractively maintained small and medium parks have a positive influence on neighbouring property values.”

Keeping the importance of good maintenance in mind, Gaiga said that the park will be mostly concrete with shrubs and greenery in planters.

“It’s a very contemporary design with raised flower beds that will have tree shrubs and flowers,” said Gaiga.

The seating within the park will be concrete surrounded by wood.

“There will be a central water feature,” said Gaiga of the five-jet fountain planned for the park.

“The water can be programmed to dance and it lights up at night.”

The fountain won’t be the only part of the park to light up.

“We’re going to have directional lighting shining up all the trees as well,” said Gaiga.

She originally planned on having the park flood lit but realized that it could overpower a feature of the water fountain.

“I didn’t even know there were 16,000,000 colours in the world but apparently this fountain is capable of 16,000,000 colours so we wanted to make sure that the fountain colours would be visible in the evening.”

While the park is for all the community’s residents, Gaiga hopes that it will especially provide a place for youth to spend time—both for leisure and activities.

“I really want to encourage the youth in this town to utilize the park for philanthropic  purposes,” Gaiga said, citing fundraising efforts such as tag days, ice cream and lemonade stands and even band practices that could take place in the park.

“I want them to come up with ideas about how they can utilize the park for something constructive. Lots of children are good activists.”

Starting young, Gaiga believes, is key to encouraging selfless behaviour in Port Alberni’s youth.

“Children can learn to be benevolent and give to others and not always rely on others but have others rely on them.”

Gaiga hopes to have the majority of the park complete in the fall.

City council authorized staff to enter into a five-year agreement for maintenance of the park.