Members of the community brainstormed ideas for the future of both Frank James Park and Nunns Creek Park at a master planning session for both parks on June 23 at the Sportsplex.

City considers the future of two storied parks

City contemplates long-term visions for two of its well-known parks

What to do with Nunns Creek and Frank James parks?

That’s the question the City of Campbell River has posed to the community to gather input into the future of two of the city’s most storied parks.

The city is conducting master plans on both Nunns Creek Park and Willow Point’s Frank James Park and as part of the planning process hosted a public forum on June 23.

For Nunns Creek, the plan consists of two different components – the city-owned space that includes the ballfields, playground and logger sports area and the surrounding trails and woods that are owned by the BC Nature Trust but are managed and leased by the city.

Ross Milnthorp, the city’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture, said there is a high degree of support for returning the Nature Trust lands to their natural condition, similar to what was done at Baikie Island nearly five years ago.

“That would entail restoring the natural habitat. Re-establishing the Nunns Creek channel would likely be one of the steps, as well as cleaning up the channel and re-establishing the trails and bridges,” Milnthorp said. “Encouraging the community’s use of the Nature Trust Lands by restoring those lands would be one of the objectives.”

Milnthorp said there is also community interest in an interpretive facility of some kind within the nature trails.

As for the city-owned area of the park, Milnthorp said the city wants to know if the community prefers to retain the area for sporting use, or if people would like to see some other potential public use, such as exhibition grounds.

“One of the results of the public consultation process is that Campbell River Minor Baseball Association has indicated that they need more diamonds to host more tournaments and playoffs,” said Milnthorp, adding that’s something that holds value for the city. “Sports tournaments of all kinds are very important to the local economy in terms of visitor expenditures.”

Milnthorp said overall, the consensus coming out of June’s public open house was that the public wants to see renewal at Nunns Creek Park, with suggestions being put forward for expanded event space, an off-leash dog facility, a nature play area, community gardens and a water park.

At Frank James Park, the general consensus coming out of the public forum was to build on what exists today at the park to create a showcase spot.

The city is considering not only the park’s green space and parking lot, but also the city-owned waterfront lot behind the Willow Point Lions Hall.

“It’s a sizeable area and it has a lot of potential for re-development while maintaining the heritage and community values of the park,” Milnthorp said.

Of particular consideration for Frank James Park is the area’s historical value and the fact it plays host to one of the most popular events of the year – the annual Transformations on the Shore carving contest.

Milnthorp said participants indicated they value the arts presence related to the Sybil Andrews Cottage and Walter Morgan Studio next door to the park and that they would like to see the city build on that strength.

“Many ideas were also put forward suggesting we capitalize on the park’s connection to the shore by strengthening the relationship to the park and the beach,” Milnthorp said.

A design team hired by the city is currently assessing the suggestions put forward by the community.

Sometime during the week of Sept. 19, the city will host a public open house to reflect back to the community what the city heard.

The next step after that will be to develop draft concept plans that will then be taken to the city’s two public advisory committees before going before city council.

Milnthorp said while he hopes to have the concept plans before council sometime this fall, any major changes to the parks could be several years away.

In the meantime, the city is undertaking minor changes to Nunns Creek Park including an electrical and lighting upgrade, repairs to the stairs throughout the stands, repairs to damage caused by people jumping over the fences, re-lining the fields and re-building and adding material to the Mosquito ball field.