Four months after Brenda Patterson first approached Port Alberni City Council about rejuvenating Weaver Park in her neighbourhood, the park re-opened with new playground equipment on Saturday (Nov. 12).
Thirty or so adults showed up Saturday morning to help assemble the equipment, and a dozen children officially opened the rebuilt park to play on the equipment at noon.
“It looks great,” a relieved Patterson said, as cold rain fell on those gathered at the brief opening ceremony. “The kids are smiling.”
She said her “aha” moment over the playground came earlier in the week, during site preparations.
“It was more surreal the other day when the welders were here,” she said. “It was surreal to see the structure being put up.”
Alita Johnson, who helped Patterson with their fundraising and public relations effort, said she finally realized their dream had come true when she went to the Steelworkers’ Hall to get a key and looked back at the main park of the park. “I said wow, they have so much done,” Johnson said.
Patterson thanked city parks and recreation director Scott Kenny for all the work he did to help them get the funding in place, and the site preparation done. “To Scott, thank you, because without you we never would have got this park,” she said.
At the opening ceremony, a new picnic table was also dedicated in memory of Tofino paramedics Jo-Ann Fuller and Ivan Polivka, who died in October 2010 when their ambulance left the highway on the way back to Tofino following a call in Port Alberni.
Fuller’s husband, Brian, was on hand for the dedication, as was her longtime friend Cindy Springer, who is now a paramedic-in-training.
“Ivan and Jo-Ann will be missed by all of the people they touched: paramedics, patients, friends and family,” said Steve Bremer, regional public relations director for Ambulance Paramedics of B.C.
“This park and picnic table will provide us with a place to visit, reflect and remember.”
Patterson, Johnson and other committee members will continue to raise money throughout 2012, with the intent of adding a toddler swing set and a free-standing slide next year. Let Them Be Kids will continue to match their fundraising efforts for the next two years, LTBK community liaison Jeffrey Fast said.