Phase 1 of Huxley Community Park officially opened

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, April 24 2018

The Regional District of Nanaimo celebrated the official opening of Phase 1 of the Huxley Community Park redevelopment this past Saturday afternoon.

The Sports Court and Tennis Courts have received multiple upgrades - including new boards at the Sports Court and resurfacing of the Tennis Courts. The final piece in the first phase was the construction of a playground at the North Road entrance to the park. Total budget for phase 1 came to $370,000.

While most of the upgrades were done in the fall - the RDN had held off on celebrations until the springtime. In perfect timing, just as the ribbon was cut on the playground, a brief hail and rain shower came down on those gathered.

RDN Parks Manager Wendy Marshall and Board Chair Bill Veenhof had opened the ceremonies, acknowledging the park stood on the traditional territory of Coast Salish First Nations.

Veenhof pointed to how having a multi-use space like Huxley Park is important to the health of the community.

“Not just the physical health of the residents, but the social health that is encouraged when people....gather and enjoy spending time outdoors with family, friends, and neighbours.”

Howard Houle, RDN Director for Electoral Area B (Gabriola, Mudge, Decourcy) outlined where the funding for the phase 1 had come.

The playground was made possible through contributions from the Gabriola Lions Club; the Community Fund for Canada’s 150 (a collaboration between the Nanaimo Foundation and the Government of Canada.

The improvements to the tennis and sport courts were made possible through funds from the Gabriola Ball Hockey Association (including a $20,000 anonymous donor); and the Western Economic Diversification Canada’s 150 Community Infrastructure Fund.

Houle said, “the improvements to Huxley have becom a reality because of the support and hard work of our community. I congratulate everyone involved with the planning and completion of the renewed space.”

He pointed to those who took time to write letters of support of the project, which was key when the granting agencies had to make decisions about which projects to fund.

“Community volunteers on the local Parks and Open Space Committee (POSAC) played a key role in project planing along with RDN staff.

“As a result of the first phase of this process, we now have this rejuvenated community focal point to all enjoy, just in time for summer.”

Houle said the next phase will include construction of a new skatepark, and a new parking lot. 

Costing for phase 2 will happen through 2018 and into 2019. Construction - depending on funds available - is slated to begin in 2020.

The Keep on Pushin’ campaign was recently started by the Gabriola Skatepark Fundraising Association with the goal of raising $72,000 by April of next year.

Total budget for Phase 2 is estimated at $420,000, of which $360,000 is the skatepark (including the $72,000 community target).

More information on the skatepark campaign can be found on the information sign along the North Road side of Huxley Park, or with the Keep on Pushin’ Facebook page.

Huxley Park has been a recreational facility on Gabriola for almost 30 years. Both the tennis courts and sports court were built by community volunteers.

In 2011, Huxley Park was donated to the RDN and a visioning process and management plan were completed.

Community Donations towards phase 1 included $20,000 from the Ball Hockey Association; $5,000 from the Gabriola Lions Club; and $1,200 from the Village Liquor Store’s 1% Club for the playground.