Salmon Arm’s historic Fletcher Park, next to city hall, has been through a number of changes over the years, but remains a well-used public space. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

Salmon Arm’s historic Fletcher Park, next to city hall, has been through a number of changes over the years, but remains a well-used public space. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

Column: Growing Salmon Arm’s outdoor public play and recreation spaces

In Plain View by Lachlan Labere

It feels like only yesterday when playground visits were a frequent occurrence for the Labere family.

Back in our stroller days, we often wheeled our son to Fletcher Park where he would climb the playground equipment and/or cool off in the splash park. I know I spent plenty of quality time rocking with him on the teeter totter and running with him through the walls of cold water in the green hoops of the splash park’s water dragon. We had at least one of his birthday parties there too.

Back then, playgrounds were also a sought-after attraction in communities we’d visit while on day outings or vacationing. In Vernon we’d stop at the playground in Polson Park and check out Vernon Creek. The playground at the Rotary Lakeside Park in Nelson was particularly outstanding. It’s part of an impressive recreation area, complete with trolley car, along the Kootenay River.

When I had summer events to cover in Sicamous, my wife and son would often tag along to spend time at the beautiful Beach Park. Or they’d make their way out to Canoe Beach for a dip there. Family visits in Vancouver also included a lot of stops at parks and playgrounds.

Read more: From pool to police station, many uses of city hall site recognized

Read more: Attracting young families to Salmon Arm key to growth of community

Prompting this pondering on public spaces was a recent telephone call I received from a resident who, among other things, stressed Salmon Arm could really use an outdoor rubberized walking/running track. He explained enthusiastically that such an asset, especially with the ongoing pandemic, would be beneficial to the health and well-being of residents. It was not the first time I’d heard this and, given how much our parks and playgrounds are being used – something I see daily from our office across the road from Blackburn Park – I agreed a track would be nice. With our growing population of young families, other park/playground enhancements would also be good, like climbing ropes and other elements that challenge a broad range of ages.

Of course, these things cost a fair bit (or, in the case of a track, quite a lot) of money, and it’s often community groups, like local Rotary clubs, that step up to make them happen.

That said, Salmon Arm does have a large number of parks that cater to a wide variety of needs. Several, including Blackburn, continue to be improved. As well, the city is working towards upgrading the recreation centre/swimming pool.

I know the grass can be greener elsewhere, and there’s always room to improve and do better. It can take time. But I do see momentum and I expect, as our population continues to grow and expand, so too will our parks and playgrounds.
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