Public Hearing held on Community Centre Playground issue

A group of concerned citizens were on hand Monday night at 6PM in Council Chambers for a discussion on the proposed moving of the playground in the Community Centre. The meeting began with Dr. Helm making a presentation on why the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation (TRMF) is asking that the playground be moved. A plan was presented indicating the proposed site of the main gallery and the subsidiary exhibits, along with images of the four skeletal mounts. In this plan, the skeletal mounts are in the location currently occupied by the indoor playground. The surrounding ceiling and wall space would be used for exhibits. Dinosaur track way replicas would hang from the ceilings and adorn the walls, along with the appropriate text and other fossil displays. In addition, the current Wapiti Lake exhibit would be moved downstairs so the large amount of wall space currently occupied by this display would be available.

Helm went on to say that this site is the most suitable for such a gallery, and that the positive impact on tourism, economic diversification and education would be greatest if this exhibit were placed upstairs. The TRMF believe that this allows better theming of the Community Centre, with recreational activities downstairs, and museum exhibits, library, restaurant and meeting rooms upstairs. If the public consultation process does not support this view, TRMF are able to develop the gallery downstairs. However, its impact and benefits would then be significantly less than in the upstairs locality.

Discussion followed the presentation with many differing opinions being expressed. One of the mothers present commented that the facility is a Community Centre, not a Tourism Centre and that the needs of the community need to be met. Another mother commented that they were happy with the playground where it is, and that the downstairs is dark and dingy. Helm assured those present that there was money within the proposal to move the playground and prepare the area suitably for children. This could include painting and lighting the area. Another suggestion was made, that if the playground was moved, it would be nice to have tables and chairs where the parents could have coffee and watch their children. Others thought that the playground would be much better downstairs for safety reasons (it would be farther away from the drinking establishments), as well as for noise, (it would be much more relaxing to sit in Sheila?s if parents weren?t hollering across the restaurant at their children). The supervision or lack of supervision was brought up, sighting that many parents drop their children off at the playground and don?t watch them.

At an earlier Committee of the Whole meeting the possibility of moving the indoor playground downstairs to make room for the Discovery Gallery was suggested. TRMF was then asked to put such a request in writing for discussion at the next Council meeting. At this meeting it was decided that further fact-finding and public consultation were necessary.

According to the agreement with Western Diversification, who have supplied the funds for this endeavour, there is a spring 2006 deadline.