I am writing this letter to celebrate positive, effective local government. At the end of September, I wrote to all members of council, the mayor, the executives of the parks department and the regional directors of the North Okanagan, the following:
“I am writing you today to express my concerns for the children and families of the Vernon area who use Mission Hill Park and the playground.
“There are two major issues that are currently occurring here. First is the antiquated and poisonous play structure and secondly, the lack of safety barriers to separate the children and dogs that co-exist in this park. The play structure was erected in the early 1990s in Mission Hill Park, as well as in many other community parks in the Vernon area. Over the past decade, we have become aware of the dangers of pressure-treated lumber play structures pose to our most vulnerable members of society. The governing bodies in the North Okanagan have taken steps to protect our children by removing these structures and replacing them with metal play structures. Unfortunately at this time, we still have a pressure treated lumber play structure in Mission Hill Park. Not only is this structure a health hazard for our children, it is also seriously outdated. The structures were designed to have a 15-year life span, and that would put its safety expiry date at 2005. I am requesting that you, as part of the governing bodies of the North Okanagan, replace this dangerous equipment as soon as possible before there are injuries to our children.
“Secondly, there is a serious health concern at Mission Hill Park as the playground is located in a dog park where many animals defecate and urinate on the play structure and in the surrounding sand. I and many others have witnessed this occurring on a daily basis. At this time, there are no barriers separating the play structure from the dog park and frequently there are dogs on the structure. I am asking that you immediately erect a minimum three-foot fence to surround the structure for the safety of our children. I am very concerned that there is going to be sickness, injury and danger to our children who simply wish to play.”
I received responses from our mayor and from Mr. Nicol advising they would look into it. I was surprised when I began to receive correspondence from Mr. Nicol and the parks department advising that they were taking this issue very seriously and would have a fence installed in a week’s time.
I was pleased but cautious as this seemed to be a very short timeframe for the various levels of local governance to work to accomplish a project. I am very pleased to report that the fence was indeed erected within that time frame and now the playground at Mission Hill Park is safer for all children to use. A big thank you to Mr. Nicol for being so responsive to this serious issue and also for being inclusive to keep me in the loop.
Kudos to you and the parks department.
Further, now we are looking forward to having the antiquated play structure removed and a beautiful new structure installed in 2013.