The playground outside Aggie Hall was torn down this week as construction begins on a parking lot expansion. (Mike Gregory Photo)

Ladysmith’s Aggie Hall playground torn down to make way for parking lot expansion

New natural playspace to be built at the corner of Symonds and 2nd Avenue

The playground at Ladysmith’s Aggie Hall was torn down this week as preparation begins for the parking lot expansion and a new natural space up the hill for children to let loose.

The town is setting aside $180,000 in the 2017-2021 Financial Plan for the project, with funding come from taxation, Gas Tax and carry-forward funds.

According to a staff report, the design is structured in a way to allow for a staged approach so that the project can be completed over a period of time depending on funding.

“I just want to extend my accolades for this exceptional concept that’s been put together here,” said Councillor Rob Hutchins the last city council meeting as the artist rendering was unveiled for the first time publicly.

Ladysmiths Parks, Recreation and Culture Advisory Committee was expected to review and comment of the design before referring the matter back to council for further discussion.

In the artist rendering, gone is a traditional looking playground and in its place is a log climb area for children to bound over or crawl under, plenty of boulders, a new slide, wooden boardwalk, vertical poles and even balancing logs.

Councillor Joe Friesenhan took issue with the possibility of a proposed water feature that has a pump, concrete play stream and “small pool of water.”

“That’s creating a lot of liability. It’s also on a hill, very difficult to do,” he said. “My preference would be to move it to where I first said which is between the two fences on First Avenue but seeing as that’s failed I would suggest to do something different.”

Relocating the playground to the corner of Symonds Street and 2nd Avenue is in part a better plan because of the risk of errant foul balls from the diamond.

Town staff partnered with Ladysmith Family and Friends (LaFF) to develop an engagement process and numerous community meetings were held to garner feedback.

The whole play area will be enclosed by a fence and potentially include a cedar arbour, a bridge, perennial plantings and small trees will round out the natural landscaping.

“The hope would be we’d like to do the construction over the summer time when it’s a little bit quieter and LaFF is in action there (at Aggie Hall),” said Parks and Recreation director Clayton Postings when asked about the timeline for the project.

The parking lot will be completed first this spring and bring the total number of spaces to 26 parking stalls for a net gain of 14 new spaces.

Ladysmith officials first developed a concept plan to expand parking on 2nd Avenue as part of the 2015 financial plan but it was put on hold when a new opportunity arose to lease spaces from a neighbouring property.

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