Pacifica Housing installs first of four playgrounds

Saanich playground is legacy of former tenant Bonnie Clark

Executive director Dean Fortin of Pacifica Housing sits on the new playground at the Rudd Park housing complex on Irma Avenue. Volunteer work parties and Pacifica crews have led the installation of the playground

The playground that began as a legacy project for Bonnie Clark following her unexpected death in September is now at Pacifica Housing Advisory Association’s Rudd Park property.

Clark was a Pacifica tenant for six years when she died at Rudd Park, and the playground is the first of four being installed on Pacifica properties this year. Friends of Clark donated time and money, along with Pacifica supporters, to make the playground a reality. It will be officially introduced with a ceremony at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 1.

“All of the community and friends kicked in to make this happen, and maybe that’s the legacy that the children who play on this will know growing up,” said Dean Fortin, executive director for Pacifica.

Pacifica raised $10,000 towards Bonnie’s Legacy through an appeal to the community starting last year. The Jawl Foundation, of Saanich’s Jawl development family, donated materials, as did other organizations. The cedar chip base and six-by-six-inch lumber used to frame the playground arrived last week.

A work party of volunteers helped level and clear the base of the playground on Sunday, to prepare it for the coming playground.

Clark loved children, and the playground is a way to carry on the deep regard she felt for them.

“She held them sacred and cared deeply about their well-being and joy,” said Pacifica spokesperson Nikola Mende.

Following her celebration of life, Pacifica examined the complex and property where she lived to recognize a way to honour her legacy. Through discussion, it came about to replace the exhausted children’s playground in the complex where she lived and died.

Later this year, Pacifica will also install new playgrounds at their Field Crest (also near Rudd Park), Kew Court (James Bay) and Alder Brae properties.

As Clark was a proud woman of Cree and Métis descent, organizers will include a smudging ceremony at the playground’s Sept. 1 designation.

“We would like to install playgrounds at all 35 properties but we’ll start with four this year,” Fortin said.

To learn more about Bonnie’s Legacy or how to get involved, contact Fortin at dfortin@pacificahousing.ca.

Pacifica currently provides homes for over 1,500 people and operates the highly successful Greater Victoria Streets to Homes Program, which moves adults from chronic homelessness directly into long-term, private market housing with additional supports.

 

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