Increased use of the Royal Athletic Park, a municipal facility that stands empty on far more days, will directly benefit the community it is in this summer.
The North Park Neighborhood Association, with support from the City of Victoria, is running a number of free community programs at RAP aimed at local residents and others.
From Monday evenings (6 p.m. to 8 p.m.) art workshops through to the busy Saturdays with activities for older adults (1 p.m.), art and culture for women and girls with the mosque (2 p.m. to 4 p.m.) and children’s football for ages 7 to 13 (6 p.m. to 8 p.m.) there are many reasons to explore the park.
Open on Mondays and Thursdays from 5pm to 8pm – the latter also has a picnic in the park with theater skam performances at 6.30pm and 7pm – and Saturdays from 12pm to 8pm.
Coupled with the monthly local farmers market, this adds up to new experiences for many residents and Victorians, said Sarah Murray, executive director of the North Park Neighborhood Association.
“It’s a real paradigm shift for people to understand that Royal Athletic Park is free,” she said, instead of viewing it as a facility that is mostly closed when there are no sporting events or other gatherings.
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The city council recently came on board with the idea of making better use of the facility.
In addition to earning a $ 7,500 strategic plan grant last month, the neighborhood association was approved a grant of approximately $ 10,000, which essentially waived its summer park rental fees. It was able to use the park for free when urban parks and recreational programs are taking place at RAP, but typically use of the facility is billed outside of these hours, which will be the case this year.
As Murray pointed out, North Park is not only one of the few designated neighborhoods without its own community center, it also has the lowest per capita green space in Victoria.
Without RAP, the total green area would drop to 0.71 hectares per 1,000 residents, she added – the current city-wide parkland is 3.16 hectares per 1,000 residents. This is an important reason why the use of RAP is so important to what the neighborhood club has to offer in the summer.
Count. Sarah Potts, city council liaison officer for North Park, said there was a lot of potential for the city to increase the use of RAP.
“Even in 2019, the park was only used 30 percent,” she says. “It really speaks for the need to offer inexpensive or free programming.”
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She values the work the association is doing and doing to engage the community and work with the city to create recreational opportunities in the park.
“It’s great to see what’s possible. Sometimes we get stuck in status quo thinking, but that kind of innovative thinking makes the city work really well, ”said Potts.
Murray hoped to put up a large sign outside the park with all of the summer programs available, but residents can also find the information online at npna.ca.
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City of Victoria Parks