The Devonian Playground Project

Elkford is set to install a new playground by the end of this year, which will serve as a community hub behind the baseball diamond and tennis courts. It will be known as the Devonian Playground Project.

Additionally, the Devonian Playground Project has been named one of ten provincial finalists for the BCAA Play Here award. Hundreds of areas across B.C. entered the competition, and only ten made it to the finals. Starting May 22, and ending June 18, the public will have a chance to vote for their favourite project.

On June 23, three winning projects will be announced, and each will receive revitalizations worth up to $100,000.

The Devonian Playground Project was the only space in the entire Kootenay region to make the final ten.

Andrea Gagnon is the president of the Elkford Community Enhancement Society, and hopes Elkford is chosen for the award.

The society was formed in August of 2015 with the goal of being proactive in the community, engaging the public in forming ideas for capital projects. The Devonian Playground Project was one of three projects proposed to the community of Elkford, and the society decided to start with this one.

“We went out to the community and asked them what they wanted to see in their playground, choosing pieces of the park,” said Gagnon.

With these ideas, four plans were made and one was chosen which best suited the area of choice. From this point, the society started fundraising last August.

The first donation received was $10,000 from the Sparwood Thrift Shop Society. They then received $60,000 through a recreational grant from the Columbia Basin Trust, a community initiatives grant from the District of Elkford for $24,000, and another community initiatives grant from Area A for $4,000. They recently received a project society grant of $20,000 and in-kind services grant from the District to help remove the current playground by the Devonian concession stand at the ball diamond.

They have also applied for a Rick Hansen grant which would allow them to make the bathrooms in the Devonian Concession building wheelchair accessible, which they currently are not.

Equipment from the old playground will be reused and transferred to another area in Elkford. The Elks originally built the playground when the ball diamonds were installed, 40 years ago.

The society is sitting at $131,000 raised, and hope to raise at least another $45,000 to complete the project. If they received the $100,000, this would allow them to expand on their project at install additional equipment. Additional funds would also allow them to revamp the concession stand as well as the bathrooms.

The plan is to build the new playground in mid-September, as a community.

“We’re going to be asking residents to come out for three days, it will take about 40 people and three days to build it,” said Gagnon. “Our goal is to bring back community-togetherness, and make people realize that if you come together as a community, you can basically achieve whatever you set your mind to.”

This new playground space will serve as a community hub for Elkford, bringing the baseball diamonds, the tennis courts, the pool and the Trans-Canada trail together.

“It’s a well-used park,” said District of Elkford Mayor, Dean McKerracher. “In fact I’ve had all my grandkids here playing over the last 40 years.

“The Devonian needs to be replaced,” he added.

“The District of Elkford doesn’t really have a community gathering space, so that was our main goal,” said Gagnon.

Individuals may vote for their favourite project up to four times a day via Facebook, Twitter, Google and email at Bcaaplayhere.com.