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Community based group to launch destination playground project

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A new community initiative to upgrade the playground at Caroline Bay is being launched this weekend, and they want your input.

The C-Play Playground Upgrade Project was initiated by Owen Jackson (OJ) earlier this year, and they will be at the Rose Festival this weekend to get feedback and support for their idea.

OJ says that it’s been a vision he’s had for Timaru for a few years now.

"I’ve spent many hours at the Caroline Bay playground with my 3 children and have always thought it had the potential to offer so much more," he said.

"Numerous visits to the wonderful Margaret Mahy Playground in Christchurch inspired me to put together the C-Play Playground Upgrade Project, and with the help of a dozen or so equally passionate parents and enthusiastic community members we have come a long way in a short time."

The group have started off with a blank canvas and a shared understanding that a destination playground would have huge benefits for the community as a place to connect, play and have fun.

"I didn’t know a lot about playgrounds previously other than they're a place to put a few swings and a slide and let the kids run around," said OJ.

"I quickly learnt that they are so much more than that and have huge health and wellbeing benefits, not just for young children but for people of all ages and abilities.

"I’ve made it my business to learn as much as I can about the value of quality play-spaces and conversations with the designers of the Margaret Mahy playground and various playground equipment providers in NZ and Australia have inspired me to get to the point we are at now."

OJ has surrounded himself with some talented and equally passionate people including Roselyn Fauth, who has long been an advocate of creating quality playspaces for the community, and local architect John Rushton who has gifted his time to the project.

"It took me a little while to get Rose on board, but her enthusiasm is incredibly infectious, she loves Timaru as much as I do and along with the rest of the group (affectionately called "PUP") we are really focused on creating a unique destination playground where our community can play, learn, socialize, laugh, have fun and embrace the economic benefits."

The PUP group have discovered that playgrounds are a serious business which can cost some serious money.

"Over the past few months we’ve met with the top five playground equipment professionals in the country. We gave them a brief of what we wanted to create and broke it down into categories for them.

We wanted to create a playground that would take people on a journey that was:

CULTURAL, where are we from, how did we get here and where are we going? have the required PHYSICAL attributes so that it challenges all ages and enables people to test themselves no matter what their capabilities but in a manner that still keeps them safe.

We also want to develop TEXTURAL elements into the playground with lots of sand and water so kids can get their hands and feet dirty and use their imaginations.

We need a balance of great equipment and natural landscaping that enables people to test their mind and cognitive capabilities and incorporate ENVIRONMENTAL elements such as sustainability and global climate issues.

It's a lot to take in but at the end of the day we can’t forget the FUNDAMENTALS...this playground needs to be a place to have fun and enjoy the sounds of laughter and excitement."

With a potential budget of approximately $1.5 million the C-Play project is going to require a huge amount of energy from all the stakeholders but it's more than achievable says OJ.

"Although in the initial price tag may seem large, this will be a massive benefit to all the families in Timaru, offering a safe, attractive and stimulating play space that will be the envy of other communities.

"We have kept the Timaru District Council briefed throughout the process and recently met with them to ask for support. They have shown enthusiasm for the project and discussions are ongoing. Now though it is time to engage with the public and get some feedback on what sort of playground they’d like to see for Caroline Bay."

OJ says, they are sharing a marquee at the Rose Festival with Wu-Hoo Timaru, so the kids can paint rocks with a playground theme and parents and caregivers can look over the designs and equipment they’ve been presented with so far.

Members of the PUP team will be on hand to answer any questions and hand out survey forms for feedback which will put them in the draw to win a Tekapo Springs Family Combo Pass, a Mike Pero jacket and cricket sets as well as a selection of other prizes.

"We want to know how the public feels about C-Play and how supportive they would be so we can continue to forge ahead and provide a playground that is uniquely ours and is one that we can all be extremely proud."

Asked what sort of timeline the group proposes to put in place OJ says that depending upon support from the council, the local community and other potential business stakeholders the playground could possibly be open to the public for the summer of 2021/22.

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