The Promontory area of Chilliwack is getting more green space thanks to a generous donation from Rodney Philippson.
The 82-year-old has donated a piece of property on Sylvan Drive to the City of Chilliwack, and it will be turned into the Philippson Family Park. A fence is up now and work has begun on the vacant lot, which will include a playground area, drinking fountain and pavilion.
“I spent 26 years up there (he moved to Promontory in 1994) and I want to leave something behind,” said Philippson, who lived across the street from the lot, and has since moved into the Cascades, an assisted-living facility in Chilliwack. “I’m not going to live forever, and I wanted to use my resources to give back to the community.”
Philippson, who will be familiar to many as a longtime Salvation Army and MCC volunteer, met with City staff for an hour to talk about what the project would look like.
There is a bus stop at the location, and one feature Philippson wanted was a shelter (pavilion) similar to the one at Yarrow’s Pioneer Park.
“People will be able to sit in the shelter on rainy days and watch for the bus coming down the hill,” he said.
The playground is going to be nautically themed, in a nod to Philippson’s long career as a west coast fisherman.
“I haven’t seen it, but there’s a mockup of a fishing boat the kids can play on,” he noted.
There will also be a plaque providing information about the Philippson family. He said he’s dedicating the park to his mother and father, and others who came to Canada in search of a better lifestyle.
“I want it to be a place where people can go to interact with each other, maybe sit for a rest when they’re walking their dog,” he said. “That’s what’s in the back of my mind.”
The park isn’t even built yet, and Philippson is already thinking about ‘phase two.’
Eventually, he would like to see a path that runs beside the park, connecting it to Braeside Avenue, the street that’s below Sylvan. That would require the approval of one or two homeowners behind the park who would be giving up a small piece of their properties.
“It’d be a two-metre (wide) walkway from Braeside for people to come up and catch the bus,” Philippson said. “I think they’re negotiating that now.”