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Bayly Park a welcome amenity for growing Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood

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Lori Pyne, the Cheakamus Community Garden coordinator, knows a thing or two about the value of public green spaces, and has seen firsthand what Bayly Park has added to the neighbourhood in the year since it opened.

"I heard this saying once that 'kids can't bounce off the walls if there aren't any' so this park is awesome, and will be great for the kids down here," she said of Whistler's newest neighbourhood park, located on the 8.45-hectare site of the capped former municipal landfill.

Officially opened last May, Bayly Park was designed around a centralized irrigated lawn area just behind the HI-Whistler hostel. The $1.68-million project also includes a playground, sand volleyball courts, a tennis court, the community garden, an off-leash dog area, public washrooms and parking. Construction on several park features, like a picnic pavilion next to the playground, is ongoing. The amenities will be unveiled to the public as they are completed.

Jeroen Bet is a regular visitor to Whistler, and coming from Seattle, knows how important it is for communities to have outdoor meeting places like Bayly Park.

"Most people here live in condos or rent condos, so it's not like they have their own gardens, so it's really nice that there's public space like this, and I think it really adds value to a community," he said, about to set off on his bike for a trip down the Sea-to-Sky Trail, which cuts through the park.

"I see it in Seattle as well; There are so many people living side by side that never get to talk to each other, and when they come to the park and take their kids or their dog they get an instant report and find out who they live next to. They get to actually interact with their community."

With Cheakamus Crossing driving the surge in young families to the resort (The 2011 Census data showed an eight per cent hike in the number of families in Whistler compared to 2006), the park also serves as a welcome amenity for the neighbourhood's youngest residents, according to local Wesleigh Jeannine.

"If I was having a baby right now I would live somewhere like this, I think it's perfect," said Jeannine, who works as a nanny for two families in Cheakamus. "It's going to be so amazing in the summer because last summer there wasn't much here. You'd come down here and there was no playground, no field, so I think it's going to be great."

Kendra Stirrett has worked in Cheakamus for the past two years, and said she's already seen how popular the park is for families in the neighbourhood.

"On sunny days like today everyone's trying to play on the playground and the soccer field," she said. "It brings all the families that live in the community out together."

A BMX track could be the next addition to Bayly Park if the Whistler BMX club gets the final municipal green light to go ahead with construction at an area between the community garden and hostel.

The RMOW voiced support for a BMX track in the most recent Recreation and Leisure Master Plan, and Whistler BMX track director Brian Finestone said he expects final approval for the site following a public consultation period. Whistler BMX is now waiting to see if a grant application to the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation and other fundraising sources are approved. If given the go-ahead, the $75,000 grant would allow for preliminary construction to begin at the site as early as late May, according to Finestone.

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