The Brown Drive Kin Park playground has been a volunteer-driven community effort from the very beginning, and this weekend, the Ladysmith Kinsmen Club is hoping to bring out the community one more time to install the final phase of the playground.
The majority of the Brown Drive Kin Park playground is here and waiting to be installed, and the Kinsmen are organizing a work party this Saturday and Sunday at the park, which is on Colonia Drive near Brown Drive. The plan is to start Saturday at 8 a.m., as they need to have the site ready by the time the concrete donated by Mayco Concrete arrives at 1:30 p.m.
The Kinsmen are also hoping to get some of the site preparation done this Friday.
“We have to move all the wood chips to dig the holes in the ground on the Friday and Saturday morning so that when the concrete comes, we’ll be able to stand the apparatus up and put it in the ground,” explained Duck Paterson of the Kinsmen. “We want to try to get as much of this stuff done in advance so that when the volunteers come on Saturday, we can finish off the holes and they can put the apparatus together.”
The playground equipment is coming from Henderson Recreation Equipment Ltd., and Henderson told the Kinsmen that if they completed Phase 3 of the playground this year, they would donate a swing set, so a tots’ swing set will be installed.
Two picnic benches will also be placed in the grassed area between the play structures.
“That’s the final fundraising part,” said Paterson. “We weren’t quite there, and Lealand Contracting said they’d buy one of the picnic tables.”
The work party is going to start at 8 a.m. on Saturday, but Paterson says people can show up at any time — and they don’t even have to work. They may just want to watch this community project wrap up.
“With the work and time so many people have put in, it’s really been a community effort,” said Paterson. “We received two gaming grants and money from the Town, but all the rest of it has been people just wanting to see it happen.”
The Brown Drive Kin Park project began as a dream almost immediately after its rotting predecessor had to be torn down nearly three years ago.
The playground is being built in three phases, and this structure — which is geared toward children aged five to 12 — is the final phase. The Kinsmen are still collecting bottles and pennies for the playground, as they need to put in the lights.
“We didn’t know how we would do in fundraising, so we figured if we could do it in phases, then it would make the fundraising easier, and if we didn’t raise all the funds, we wouldn’t have a playground that was half-finished,” explained Paterson. “The fundraising went so well that we did Phase 1 and 2 in 2011.”
The apparatus alone for the first phase of the playground cost $72,000, and the Kinsmen had to raise another $9,000 for the ground cover.
Paterson remembers installing the first play structure in March 2011. It was raining so hard, but about 40 people from Oceanview Community Church — who had donated $5,000 — volunteers from the Festival of Lights Society and the Kinsmen and neighbours came out to give their time and help build the playground.
The Kinsmen got enough money to construct Phase 2, which is aimed at younger children and cost $54,000 for the apparatus and almost $8,000 for the ground cover, that summer.
The Town of Ladysmith put in grass and sprinklers closer to the second-phase play structure, and the Kinsmen put in about $7,000 worth of wood chips in the area that will house the third phase of the playground.
The apparatus for the final phase of the playground costs almost $61,000.
By the time this playground is finished, the Kinsmen will have invested more than $230,000 into Brown Drive Kin Park — all raised by volunteers. That does not include the hundreds of hours of volunteer labour provided by community members.
Many community groups, organizations and businesses have stepped forward to support the project, including Dave Stalker Excavating Ltd. and Coastal Trucking — who were a huge help when the Town took down the old playground — Ladysmith and District Credit Union and the Town of Ladysmith’s Public Works crew.
Recently, Ladysmith Primary School Fun Day raised $325 in pennies, and the Kinsmen have received more than $800 through their penny drive.
Paterson is excited to see the project coming to an end.
“I think it’s neat,” he said. “It will be neat when [the play structure] is up there and kids are on it. It’s been a lot of fun.
“The Kinsmen are proud of it, and each time we’ve done a project and seen how accepted it is and how the community enjoys it, it makes you feel good inside.”