The Lion’s Park tour on July 9 and 10 was well received, just not well attended by locals – a concern for sure.
I do wish to commend my fellow Lion’s for their support, and especially non-Lions Ruth Cameron and Esther Erikson, who supported the tour both days – Aunty Esther with her cinnamon buns and Ruth with her unrelenting enthusiasm for the tour, open discussion of concerns, and the filling of survey forms.
Forty-six people came through the park on Saturday, and 13 on Sunday. Many of these people were part-time residents and neighbours, about a half were families (not more then three local), about a third were elderly, one was a member of district council. The Lions did their best to make the visit as informative as possible, explaining the how and the why of the Lions’ one to 100 years concept promoting accessibility, inclusiveness and play for all ages and stages, and showing where it would fit into the park with little or no disruption to the current natural habitat. The difference between a non-accessible park, an accessible park and an inclusive, accessible park was explained. People were appreciative and receptive. Ideas were exchanged, alleviating some of the concerns of neighbouring folk, and there was lots of discussion about park use now versus how it might look in the future.
In the end, everyone was asked to fill out a survey form to show that they understood what the options were. The survey offered three options for consideration. Option one was a two to three phase project of an accessible, inclusive playground and exercise stations, with a goal to have at least one phase of playground installed by June 2012 for the Rick Hansen Man in Motion Anniversary Tour, fundraised for by the Lions, the community with the potential for additional funding support due to the unique setting and concept. Option two was at least two phases of an accessible, inclusive playground only as access to funding permits, fundraised for by the Sicamous Lions and community, likely not in place for 2012. Option three was to leave as is, passive, with no play equipment, no exercise equipment, no further development and with no need for Lions Club involvement.
Out of 29 surveys filled out over two days, 27 clearly chose ‘option one’ as their preference, expressing excitement over the concept of being able to play and work out as families, two chose playground only, two indicated that they would settle for a playground only as a second option and one person wanted it left as a passive park.
Two people refused the tour, refused to fill out the survey and wanted only to replace minimally what was removed. Donations totaling $261 were received. Without a doubt, putting in the playground equipment was top priority for everybody that visited.
So what is my concern? It definitely worries me that most people did not come out to be informed, so how will they make an informed decision when they are asked by district council for their opinion?
Perhaps a district-sponsored public meeting on the project could take place at the park in conjunction with a tour and an opinion poll. I am worried because the alternative plan is for the district to put all additional development and adult equipment into Finlayson Park; accessible or not, this does not meet the need of families and seniors on the downtown side of Highway 97.
As a Lion I am personally concerned because the Lions Club is small in membership and struggling to stay alive. This project has given us a little hope, some positive focus and a way to draw help from the community for the work that we do. It has brought us support from other Lions Clubs nearby who are healthier, and has peaked the interest of Lions International. I am worried that if the community doesn’t support the 1–100 concept of the project, the club may not survive.
I wonder if the public realizes that the Lions Club brings in $20,000 a year to this community in gaming money beyond their own fundraised money, which is then dispersed to the people and families in need, victims of fire, disaster or excessive health challenges, support for sports and program fees, food programs, student bursaries and Senior’s supports.
Did you know that in 2002, the Lions were significant partners in fundraising the $122,000 that it took to build the Sicamous Skate Park? If this club is forced to dissolve due to lack of membership, the community will suffer a huge loss.
If you have questions about the project, or know people that do, call 250-515-1692 and ask if you can arrange a tour. Bring others with you so that you can see for yourself and be informed.
Thanks so much to those who did come out and to those who supported us through the Sturgis event.
Submitted by Pam Beech, Sicamous Lions Club member.