Blink and you’ll miss it, but the newest parklet in Campbellton represents the spirit of growth and pride in the community.
That’s why it was the perfect place to honour two community members who represent that spirit with this month’s Campbellton Neighbourhood Association’s Appreciation Awards: Deb Gyles and Zoie Richards, both of whom helped work on the park’s conceptualization. This honour is given to people in Campbellton who have gone above and beyond to make the area a better place to work, live, or play.
Called The River Nook, the park is nestled in right next to the Highway 19 bridge crossing the Campbell River.
“The Campbellton Neighborhood Association has been wanting to beautify the area with the help of neighbours,” said Kim Barry of the association. “One of the things that certainly became apparent talking to everybody is that we wanted to have more access points to the river itself. We kind of looked around and found a few areas that were less than desirable, let’s say, sort of vacant lots and whatnot and just started looking for funding.”
Funding for this particular park came in part from the City of Campbell River, as well as the Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET). From there community members cleared garbage, invasive species and undergrowth, installed some new art pieces by Alex Witcombe and transformed the place from a forgotten roadside to a lovely little park.
“This is where I live. I love where I live and I want to share that with people,” Richards said. “This area is so historic and it still has a lot of its natural beauty to it. It’s so amazing to wake up in the morning and grab a cup of coffee and go sit over there and watch the fly fishermen. I just think the spot is beautiful. Yeah, I think people should know about it.”
Gyles and Richards were acknowledged for putting their energy into making the community a better place.
“I’ve lived here all my life,” Gyles said. “As a kid, I’d always be down in the river … We get overlooked in Campbellton.
“You get the feeling that we’re kind of out in the boonies and we’re not. We’re so close to town. It’s a beautiful area and there’s so much that we have to offer.”
While the park is not enormous, it does make a difference in the character of the area. Before the work, the area had graffiti and no real way to access the water below. Now, people are using it when they take a break from climbing at the nearby gym, or just having their morning coffee.
“The whole idea at least my mind, is that you come in you get to sit and enjoy and then you kind of leave and then other people get to come,” Gyles said. “Yeah, so it’s not like it’s a hangout all day kind of park.”
“It’s great to talk to people fishing in the summer,” Richards added. “It’s fun.”
The park is located on the Campbellton River Route bike route, and is part of a larger project to unify the community and bring a sense of pride and ownership to their part of town. It’s that dedication to their neighbourhood that earned them their acknowledgment from the CNA.