Members of the community and Saanich council gathered Thursday morning (Aug. 10) to break ground on the $1.2-million Rutledge Park improvement project.
Upgrades to the park will include modern playground equipment, a new washroom and change room facility, a splash pad and new paved pathways.
Funding for the project comes from all three levels of government, with the federal government investing nearly $400,000, the province more than $500,000 and the District of Saanich covering the remaining $300,000.
“By investing in the revitalization of Rutledge Park, we’re investing in the well-being of our community as a whole, and we know how important it is to give people an opportunity to come together,” Saanich Mayor Dean Murdock said at the event.
The Quadra Cedar Hill Community Association has also raised $6,000 in donations to support the park’s improvements, the association’s past-president John Schmuck told Black Press Media.
Schmuck has been involved in the project since it was a mere idea and has since watched the neighbourhood grow steadily in the last nine years.
He said when Saanich held a public forum in 2016, the biggest supporters of the project were the older people living in the neighbouring buildings who were excited to bring their grandchildren to the splash pad.
“That was one of the coolest things about it seeing this project come to fruition,” he said.
Eva Riccius, the District of Saanich’s senior manager of parks, said the improvements will support the expanding neighbourhood and “add some zing” to the park.
“This is a growing neighbourhood in Saanich,” she said. “We already have a lot of density around and I think we’re just going to see more families moving into the neighbourhood. Having a really fun playground and a splash pad really adds to the things you can do in this park.”
She added Rutley, the park’s beloved pink elephant statue, will continue to call the park home following the improvements and will likely find a new spot near the splash pad.
Construction is anticipated to be complete in 2024 and Riccius said the park is expected to be open to the public by next summer.