Chilliwack playground structure destroyed by fire to be replaced

Fairfield Island neighbourhood rallied and city hall responded with $50,000 funding

A unified neighbourhood response after vandals torched a Fairfield Island playground structure has led to city hall agreeing to pay to replace it.

The deliberately set fire occurred in the early hours of May 5 and destroyed the toddler play structure at Emerald Park on Fairfield Island.

There was immediate outrage about the act of senseless vandalism in the community all the way up to Coun. Jason Lum and Mayor Sharon Gaetz who took to Twitter to express their frustration.

• READ MORE: Playground structure at Fairfield Island park destroyed by deliberately set fire

“My nieces and nephews love this little playground, hope they catch the jerks that did this,” Lum Tweeted.

Fairfield Island resident Amber Price – never one to sit on the sidelines – was also outraged, and quickly sought to see if the structure could be replaced. She made inquiries at city hall and was told, unfortunately, it was not in the 2018 budget and even if it was, equipment had to be ordered so nothing new could be in place before the fall.

“I thought to myself, I think we can do better,” Price said. “The residents of Fairfield Island had been through so much in the last couple of weeks, I felt they needed a win.”

The “been through so much” referring to a targeted shooting in the area just a few days before the playground fire.

• READ MORE: Police investigating after targeted shooting on Fairfield Island in Chilliwack

Price who runs The Bookman downtown, is also committed to childhood literacy and the importance of development through play.

“If this was a traffic light and affected adults they would be replacing it much quicker.”

Price got down to work talking to neighbours, creating a petition and a Facebook group, Fairfield Island Residents for Emerald Park. She had the support of Coun. Sam Waddington and active Fairfield Island resident Marty van den Bosch with whom she even created a video.

But they never even released the video because, before they could, city hall did an about face.

“I was armed for war and it was unnecessary,” Price said. “They responded ‘this is a go-ahead project.’ And when they did the design, they specifically chose pieces readily available in the market instead of the normal process of making an order that would take a month or two.”

Director of operations Glen MacPherson confirmed the city would fund the $50,000 playground structure, which will be new and improved.

MacPherson said the design is simple and not only very cool for kids but the structures are more resistant to damage from vandals. The most exciting part of the design is that the city has taken the opportunity to tailor the play area to cater to a wider range of age groups in the neighbourhood.

The neighbourhood got to see the designs before it was given the green light, and the new playground should be in place by mid-summer. At the last minute, local company Denbow stepped up to donate bark mulch for the play structure area.

Price called the whole thing a success and she was happy to share some positive news with the community. She plans to apply for one of the city’s neighbourhood grants to have a block party once the new Emerald Park is opened.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Just Posted

Summer comes early in the Fraser Valley

Record temperatures in Chilliwack before the season arrives elicit warnings

Returning netminders figure big in Chilliwack Chiefs roster reload

Daniel Chenard and Mathieu Caron are 2 big building blocks for a young 2018-19 team.

Buzz building for GW Graham junior football team

A deep and talented roster top to bottom is targeting a provincial title this fall.

UPDATE: Minor injuries in rollover crash that closed Sea-to-Sky

Hwy. 99 not expected to re-open until 2:30 p.m.

Vancouver Humane Society says Chilliwack Fair threat a ‘baseless scare tactic’

Fair board revokes claim that VHS campaign violates anti-spam legislation

Canada won’t ‘play politics’ on U.S. migrant children policy

The U.S. government is under fire over its ”zero tolerance” policy

Quarter of seafood sold in Metro Vancouver is mislabelled: researchers

Intentional mislabelling can mask concerns about sustainability or human rights

Completion date for Alex Fraser Bridge improvements pushed to 2019

New traffic lights at Nordel Way and Highway 91 mark the end of phase one of the project

Cheers erupt as Federal Court judge approves historic gay purge settlement

Gay military veterans said they were interrogated, harassed and spied on because of their sexuality

Remains of two people found on Vancouver Island

Officials have not said whether or not the remains belong to two missing men, last seen in Ucluelet in mid-May

Helping B.C.’s helpers cope

The MRT has helped almost 7,000 first responders and street workers in 57 communities in B.C.

Border officials argue B.C. man’s Facebook posts threat to Canada’s security

A B.C. Supreme Court judge acquitted Othman Hamdan of terrorism charges last September

Reena Virk’s mother has died

Both of Virk’s parents became activists against bullying in wake of daughters’ death

Most Read