City council has endorsed a long-term plan for Willow Point’s Frank James Park that may include a festival lawn, a plaza, new park entry, a picnic lawn, beach seating and a Sybil Andrews art walk.
The plan, intended to be built in phases over several years, is worth $1.3 million and was presented to city council at its Tuesday meeting.
David Reid of LANARC Consulting, hired to develop a master plan for Frank James Park, told council that in consulting with the community it was clear that the park is “an important symbol.” The park is arguably best known for hosting the Transformations on the Shore carving contest, an event that Reid said Campbell Riverites want to see continue at Frank James.
“The answer was ‘absolutely yes, it should remain here.’”
But participants at a May 10 drop-in public open house at Willow Point Hall and respondents to a questionnaire all agreed they would like to see the event have its own special area in the park. To that end, one of the key changes to the park involves the creation of a festival lawn with a view to the sea and built up similar to a grass playing field, in order to address sea level rise. A Celebration Space near the park’s existing parking lot would include a waterfront gazebo and gardens and cater to small weddings and the Day of Mourning ceremony. But the number one priority, as indicated by the public, is new washrooms. Reid said the master plan calls for enhanced washrooms, with flushable toilets and running water, that are “artful” and add to the park. It also includes a Sybil Andrews Walk – a crushed stone pathway with a seating and interpretive area to tell the story and display the works of Sybil Andrews and Walter Morgan as the trail passes the cottage and the Walter Morgan Studio.
The master plan also incorporates the nearby Sea Walk and calls for a slight change, with the Sea Walk going out towards the highway at the Sybil Andrews Cottage, remaining where it is in the central portion of the park and then starting to pull away from the shoreline at the north end of the park. In the middle portion of the park, a new crosswalk is proposed, where a new pathway to the park would also lead down to the beach.
Coun. Larry Samson said he was happy with the plan but he questioned the parking situation. Additional parallel parking stalls are planned for alongside the park on Highway 19A as well as 17 new stalls in behind the Willow Point Lions Hall – a plan that the city is currently still discussing with the Willow Point Lions.
“I think it’s a great plan,” Samson said, but “one of my biggest concerns on it is the parking and the parking behind Willow Point Hall and access to the back of the building. The view sites of the driver are going to be such that they’re going to be up on the sidewalk to ensure it’s safe to enter onto the highway and it puts into jeopardy the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.”
Reid said that was a fair point and he encouraged council to have city staff take a look.
“We do recognize it as a tight spot so I’m not surprised by your comment,” Reid said, adding the driveway access could use a second look. “I would encourage a review by transportation, it’s very much in order.”
In the end, council adopted the master plan as a guiding document. The project, when it goes ahead, is expected to be funded over several years and would come up each year during financial planning for council to debate.