The community of Sunshine Valley will get a brand new outdoor recreational space, thanks to a government grant. Joint federal, provincial and municipal funds through the Investing in Canada plan will support 57 projects in British Columbia.
Sunshine Valley is called Celebration Park. It will include a learning playground and a wading pool that will also serve as a skating rink in the winter, as well as gazebos, landscaping and other amenities.
According to an Invest in Canada press release, the project includes $125,712 in federal funding, $78,570 in provincial funding and $109,999 from the municipal level (Fraser Valley Regional District).
Ann Phelps is a board member of the Sunshine Valley Community Recreation Society, a non-profit organization that operates the community’s current recreation center.
“It’s a very old building that needs a lot of repairs and doesn’t contain a lot of stuff,” she said. âSo we did surveys during the COVID period and drafted a plan that will take about five years to implement.â
They came up with the name Celebration Park after a few hours of brainstorming.
“The last two years have been tough for everyone and we haven’t had the same chance for social interaction,” Phelps said. âSome of the things people said they wanted to see were opportunities to interact and be social and celebrate what we have, rather than talk about what we don’t have right now.
âWe will have gazebos there for people to come in, sit down and talk to each other. And if by chance there is another wave of the pandemic with more closures, we will still have plenty of outdoor space for people to interact with each other while maintaining physical distance.
The learning play area will be a fun addition for toddlers and is part of an ongoing effort to improve the existing play area.
“Physical literacy is very important for kids these days and it’s an opportunity to get them moving more and learning to use their bodies and getting healthy,” Phelps said. “A part will also be about nature and our environment and that will be the intellectual learning part.”
The paddling pool/ice rink is an interesting idea that Phelps put forward.
“We really don’t have the facilities that a lot of big places have, probably because not all of our population lives there full time,” said Phelps, who estimates the year-round population is in the hundreds. âPeople who live there pay taxes for recreational facilities, but they have to travel to Hope, which is 22 kilometers away. Not everyone is comfortable driving in snowy or icy conditions, so that’s one of the main reasons we’re working on this rink.
The project will also include a stage, funded by money from the Cascade Lower Canyon Community Forest.
Phelps believes Celebration Park will make Sunshine Valley a more resilient community by bringing residents together and improving their physical and mental health. Now that the money is in place, she can’t wait to get beyond the dreaming/planning stage and see shovels in the ground.
“We’re all super excited,” she said. “We would like the water park to be finished this summer and will probably be working on other things in 2023 and 2024. We will continue to work until Celebration Park has everything everyone needs.”