Work is ongoing up at Idlewild Lake as the city continues to rehabilitate the surrounding park space with the completion of a new playground on the north side of the area.
The playground — and many other aspects of the park rehabilitation —was funded by the federal government Gas Tax Fund and the Regional District of East Kootenay and installed in April by Rotary Club of Cranbrook volunteers.
“Very happy with how the playground worked [out],” said Chris New, the Director of Community Services for Cranbrook. “We took a different approach with this playground in that we wanted this one to be an adventure-type theme, it’s not your typical playground. There’s a little more risk, there’s a little more climbing, there’s a little more height, those kind of things that fit in with the setting at Idlewild.”
The City has partnered with a number of community organizations for park rehabilitation projects, such as the College of the Rockies Timber Framing and Carpentry programs, which built a new family pavilion near the playground while the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC also helped out in part towards new fishing docks.
John Zimmer, the president of the Cranbrook Rotary Club, said the city approached the Rotary Club to take on the playground project, which is one of many rehabilitation efforts going on around the area following the completion of the dam construction at the lake.
“The city was looking to partner up with us with the Cranbrook Rotary Club to erect the playground equipment,” Zimmer said. “The City purchased the equipment so our contribution was to install it, so they just thought we had the manpower and the know-how to do that.”
With roughly a dozen Rotary volunteers who contributed in various ways from manual labour to coordinating logistics, the playground was installed after nearly a week of long days with help from city resources and the playground manufacturer.
New said the Rotary Club of Cranbrook’s volunteerism helped save approximately $10,000, which was subsequently redirected back into enhancing the playground.
“It all came at this right time where we were making final decisions and we were able to tweak some things and basically put that savings back into more components with the playground itself,” New said.
The playground install isn’t quite complete yet — New says there is space reserved for a ‘nature-themed’ swing set that has yet to go in. It will be the biggest City playground, both from a size and cost perspective, which is why it was important to put it in Idlewild Park, he added.
“It’s always rated the top park in Cranbrook and council recognized that and supported that in the decision to retain the dam and the lake and all the recreation enhancement,” New said.
“We wanted to go that extra, we wanted to make this park stand out and all the many projects and many different groups we are working with that are contributing.”
More projects on the go this spring and summer include the completion of a big bathroom on the upper level of the park by the new playground by mid-June; the continuation of a paved trail around the lake, as well as some park remediation work such as seeding and planting. Other projects include another pavilion install which will replace the lakeside fireman’s gazebo as well as the creation of some smaller single-family picnic areas around the park.