City’s gem of a park could use a great new facet

It’s almost 10 o’clock, but the kids are still wide awake and the park is practically filled

Under the tipping point of the Big Dipper we gather to laugh and to share a great time.

Families, friends, neighbours and happy strangers play and mingle as the sun dips below the trees of Willow Point Park to its inevitable “melting point” in the ocean beyond.

As twilight descends, a cool breeze picks up out of the north and out come the jackets and blankets, about to be covered in bits of popcorn and splashes of soda.

It’s almost 10 o’clock, but the kids are still wide awake and the park is practically filled as The Lego Movie finally begins on the giant inflatable screen.

It’s Sunset Cinema night in Campbell River and thanks to the folks at Coastal Community, we’re enjoying this evening together for free.

The outdoor movie night is always a big hit when the weather’s right, yet this is just my first time. It’s a terrific community event and it’s just one more facet that makes Willow Point Park a true gem of the city.

The park was hardly that when I first arrived in Campbell River way back in 1990. At that time it was just a few ball fields, tennis courts and not much else.

But the community leaders and planners of the day had a vision to create a multi-faceted community park in the centre of  Campbell River’s fastest growing area. What they started has continued to grow and flourish.

Proper playing fields for soccer, baseball, football and rugby came first, followed by the Sportsplex complex where I’ve played squash, racquetball, badminton, volleyball, worked out, danced at big events, and sat in at boring meetings.

Much more goes on there too, but the building continued outside as well. The all-weather gravel field and lights went in, followed by beach volleyball, bocce and basketball courts.

Volunteers have also left their stamp on the park. A couple guys started the much-used disc golf course and Campbell River Rotarians built the wonderful new water park.

On Wednesday night, before the movie began, our team played its last slopitch game of the season on the upper ball field. After celebrating our win, I walked along the path towards the big screen and passed by the much-maligned all-weather field.

It’s hardly ever used because sliding on gravel hurts, yet it’s the only playing field outside the Nunns Creek baseball field that has lights. Then, once again, I thought about the city’s plan to spend millions to build a new turf field and install lights at Robron Park. You know, the home to the unused lacrosse box and tennis courts where cold winds always seem to blow.

I’ll say it one last time: The money should go to Willow Point Park.

The all-weather field is desperate for a make-over. In fact, two turf fields could go in that space. Sacrifice the upper ball field for more parking, build new changerooms and, voila, Campbell River’s gem of a park becomes an even more valuable asset to this community.