It’s not only children who would benefit from having an all-abilities park in White Rock.
Firefighter Paul Farrant, who’s part of the team driving the White Rock Firefighters Association’s efforts of building an all-abilities park near East Beach, said having an all-abilities park here “would have been huge” for his family before his father in-law passed away from ALS three years ago.
Farrant said a highlight for his father-in-law, Graham Matheson, was taking his grandchild to the park. However, that wasn’t possible in the South Surrey/White Rock area because he was bound to a wheelchair, a condition of his ALS.
There are only a few all-abilities parks in the Lower Mainland, Farrant told Peace Arch News last week.
“My wife would go to Vancouver weekly… He would go on a weekly basis so he could have time with his grandchild and they would find places they could go. Maybe they could have spent more time out this way if we had something in our neighbourhood,” he said
“Even (parks) filled with bark mulch are very difficult because the wheelchair is very heavy, it sinks right in and you can’t move. He got stuck a few times. That’s why it hits home for me and my family.”
Farrant – who now has two children, ages six and three – said most people believe the beneficiaries of all-abilities park are just children, but parents, grandparents and great-grandparents have something to gain.
“It was really good for him. I wish we had something out here so other families could take advantage of that kind of thing, too,” he said.
The Peace Arch Hospital Foundation has recognized the benefits of an accessible park, and announced last March it will build an all-abilities park near Centennial Arena. The foundation will use funds collected through its 11th annual Great Pumpkin Run Walk to support the project.
The event, to take place Oct. 22 at Bayview Park on Marine Drive, begins at 9:15 a.m. with registration taking place at 8 a.m.
Online registration is available until 2 p.m., Oct. 21.
New to this year’s event will be a scary, and not-so-scary haunted house. Participants, who can elect a five- or one-kilometre route, are encouraged to dress up in Halloween costumes.
For participants wishing to not fundraise for the event, there’s a $25 fee for adults, $60 fee for families, and $15 fee for seniors and youth aged 13-18.
The all-abilities park, which will cost $900,000, is expected to open next year. The City of White Rock committed $225,000 of the project and provided the land.
According to PAH’s website, the park will be built in collaboration with the City of White Rock and White Rock firefighters.
The park is the first phase in a three-phase plan, which will include a redeveloped trail through Duprez Ravine, which runs from Ruth Johnson Park to Duprez Street, and eventually linking to the firefighters planned all-abilities park on East Beach.
Since 2009, the White Rock Princess Party has raised more than $100,000 for the East Beach park. However, according to event founder Myra Merkal, organizers are yet to secure the East Beach location.
“We hope that our collaboration with the Foundation and the City of White Rock will help resolve the many unknown details for the beach location,” Merkal said on a PAH webpage describing the project.
The PAH all-abilities park description states the location of the East Beach park has yet to be determined “due to space constraints on the White Rock side and on the Semiahmoo Indian Reserve occupying the Surrey side.”
More information on the project, and to register for the Pumpkin Run, can be found at www.pahfoundation.ca