Pemberton kids rejoice—the third phase of the Children's Nature Play Park is now complete.
"We opened it up to the children on Wednesday (Sept. 19) afternoon, and it's been full ever since," said Angela Belsham, Recreation Services manager for the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD).
The new features include a series of "parkour-style" climbing structures, a "supernova" (a large slanting ring that can be set in motion and climbed on) and a "multi-goal" for soccer and basketball.
The popular, nature-inspired play park is located at the Pemberton and District Community Centre on Cottonwood Street.
Belsham said that one of the best things about the new features is that they appeal to a large age range.
"We've seen children as young as two and then kids like 12-plus that are using the playground in really unique and fun ways," she said.
This third phase of the play park was made possible thanks to a donation from the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation—which donated $51,000 towards the project.
The SLRD put $49,000 towards the build, money that came out of its Recreation Services Operating Budget.
The goal of the park is a little bit different than your traditional playground, explained Belsham.
It aims to replicate natural elements and foster a sense of curiosity in the natural world.
"We wanted a free-play space that incorporated plants, logs, water, sand, mud, boulders, hills, trees, and to avoid the installation of what looks like a manufactured play structure," said Belsham.
Installed in 2015, the first phase of the play park was a grass maze.
"There are almost 800 plants that were part of the installation," explained Belsham.
"It was designed particularly to appeal to children who are aged two to six."
The second phase was built in May 2016 and June 2017. It included the large brick patio, picnic tables, and a water feature.
A decorative concrete stream, "adventure-park" style balancing elements, as well as some rock seating were also installed.
The SLRD envisions an outdoor classroom and perimeter trail for the fourth and final stage of the play park.
Belsham said that that project would likely cost around $25,000 to build and is dependent on securing funding. There is currently no timeline for when it can be expected.
For Belsham, who has been involved with the play park from the start, seeing it take shape is a real thrill.
It is a popular and a positive addition to Pemberton's overall vibe, she explained.
"Pemberton is a very young community.
"The goal is to try to create beautiful free-play spaces for children."