Children in the Blaeberry will soon be able to escape into a mystical woodland when the new Tom Kelly Memorial Park opens.
“They were looking to put a rural playground in. A few sites were suggested, but we’ve always had playground equipment here and we were always open to the public. So some people said to put it here,” said Doreen Kelly who donated the 3/4 of an acre of land for the park, which is named after her late husband.
When she agreed to be part of the project she had no idea what a wonderful experience it would be.
“I never dreamed it would be like this, and that they would get someone like Eric,” she said, referring to Eric Scragg, the designer of the wood playground. Scragg works from his home in Falkland, B.C., and has made a name for himself designing playgrounds for Whistler, Japan, and countless private treehouses for people’s backyards.
The park in the Blaeberry will be his most rural project to date.
“I was surprised that it was here. When I first heard Golden I figured it would be downtown. But this valley is beautiful, it’s so nice to have a park here,” said Scragg, who has been residing in a camper on the back of his pick-up truck while he worked on site.
Scragg started out making log homes, but found himself often bored doing the same thing over and over.
“I decided that was too much of doing the same log work. Then somebody wanted a playhouse, so I made a little log cabin, and stuck it up in a tree. I kind of got carried away from there,” he said. “I just let my imagination run wild after that.”
Scragg spends years collecting wood near his home in Falkland, in areas around the Shuswap Lakes, and also has people who collect for him in Squamish and Vancouver Island.
The centre piece for the Tom Kelly park has been in his workshop for five years.
“This brings out a whole different energy with the kids when thery’re on here, that natural organic flow makes them feel like they’re in the woods. Their imaginations run a little more wild with it,” said Scragg, adding how happy he is that more municipalities and regional districts are becoming interested in this sort of playground.
He already has plans for one on the Sunshine Coast, and is in talks with the CSRD for a playground at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort across from the chair lift, which he says may or may not happen next year.
The Tom Kelly Memorial Park, which will include not only Scragg’s creation, but also a playing field, a bon fire pit, and a washroom, is still under construction. The grand opening date has not yet been set, but Scragg insisted he would be back for it.
“I can’t wait to see the kids on there, that’s the most exciting part,” he said.
“Tree houses can be fun, but I really like working more on parks because more kids get to play with them.”