First phase of work complete at Kelowna’s Rutland Centennial Park

All-access playground is open but the new sports field will stay closed until the fall to protect the turf.

Rutland Centennial Park

Work is complete at Rutland Centennial Park just in time for kids to slide into summer.

The first phase of park improvements includes a new accessibility playground, the addition of a natural turf soccer field and installation of a new irrigation system.

The orchard-themed accessible playground is for all children, regardless of ability, and is now open.

The federal government contributed $50,000 towards construction of the $250,000 playground. The grant was announced in June 2015 by the former Conservative government.

“The Enabling Accessibility Fund plays an important role in making sure that all Canadians, regardless of their abilities, feel welcome in their communities,” said current Liberal Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr. “I am pleased that the Government of Canada has invested in the revitalization of this neighbourhood park ensuring children and families in Rutland will enjoy this new playground for generations.”

The new sports field, which cost $450,000, will be able to accommodate one major, or three minor, soccer fields. The city says in order to ensure good quality turf for a safe, quality sports surface, the field will not open until the fall.

In the past, the surface of the grassed area in the park was a concern and critics said  the poor condition of the park was a big reason it was not used by the public in recent years, except for the annual May Days celebration.

“It is exciting to see the investment into Rutland Centennial Park take shape with these new amenities,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran.

“Rutland already has a strong senses of community and this park will be another great gathering place while supporting opportunities for play and healthy living.”

The city bought the 2.5 hectare Rutland Centennial Park from the Rutland Hall Society in February 2015 for $800,000 and a commitment to improve the park. The adjacent to Rutland Centennial Hall stayed in the society’s hands and the society has said it plans to use the money it received for the park to either upgrade the aging hall or put towards building a new one.

The park has been an important gathering place for the Rutland community since 1939 and the city says by acquiring it, it will be protected as park for future generations.

A master plan for Rutland Centennial Park includes work done to date, as well as future additions including a multi-cultural community garden, an entry plaza and gathering space and trails.

A road right-of-way through the existing parking lot that separates the park and the hall will accommodate the future extension of Shepherd Road as part of the transit improvements in the Rutland Town Centre. A few years ago, the city build the main Rutland transit hub on Shepherd Road behind the park.

The timing of future improvements to the park, however, is subject to funding and approvals by city council.