Worthy conclusion to long park campaign
It is more than just a bench for Rutland resident Paul Pierron. Located at the new Gerstmar Park, the bench has a plaque with his name on it.
But more than a place to sit, it represents the end of his personal campaign dating back many years to see the property developed into a park, adjacent to the Mission Park Greenway.
As his wife Sylvia noted while both sat on the bench, this (bench and plaque) is something that our kids will appreciate.
For his part, Pierron was unaware of the commemorative bench and felt honoured at the gesture.
“It’s more than I could ever have imagined. It’s quite flattering for me…it’s beautiful,” Pierron said as he gave the bench his own comfort test.
Mayor Sharon Shepherd applauded Pierron’s persistence in campaigning both for the city and regional district to retain the property rather than for other purposes.
“I know that Paul has about a 400-page file on this project but now he can shred those files,” said Shepherd.
The official opening of Gerstmar Park is the first of seven such park openings that will take place around Kelowna in the coming weeks, the result of the federal, provincial and civic governments each contributing $1,047,000 to the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund to create more community parks and open space.
The regional district also contributed $30,000 to the Gerstmar Park project.
Three new parks in the Wilden subdivision will be officially unveiled on July 28, as will the Powerline Park in South Mission, Mugford Park in Rutland and Brookdale Park at Black Mountain.
Gerstmar Park includes a playground, grass area, paved trails, tennis court and washroom facilities.
Shepherd described creating new parks as “small p” in the realm of civic politics, but that it’s a vital aspect of creating a positive community and neighbourhood family-friendly lifestyle.
“We are open to doing that whenever we can in this city,” Shepherd added.
She also complimented the efforts of community groups, civic politicians and both regional district and city staff to plan ahead and have park projects ready to go when government funding becomes available.
“Getting in on the ground floor with projects that have been planned out and have a timeline is very important in securing government funding whenever it becomes available,” Shepherd said.
Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan added that playgrounds and parks form an important part of our youth, something he was reminded of recently when he returned to his hometown of Edmonton for a visit.
“Driving around and seeing the parks where I used to play when I was growing up…those are memories that you never forget,” Cannan noted.
Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson said the new park had special meaning for him since it connects to the Mission Creek Greenway, a project that his mother was instrumental in helping get off the ground.