Eric Nichloson

Highlands mom rallies support for new playground

Only playground in the municipality has seen better days

Karen Felker is reminded of her own childhood whenever she takes her two-year-old son Eric Nichloson to Twinflower park. The Highland’s mom isn’t flashing back from seeing her son’s enjoyment. Rather, the monkey bars and the slide he uses are old enough that Felker, now 40, remembers playing on similar equipment when she was a child.

But being the only playground in their rural community, it’s the park young Eric plays at a couple times per week.

Up until a year ago the playground was managed by a group of volunteers supported by the municipality.

“They dissolved last year,” Mayor Jane Mendum said, explaining that Highlands will now look after the playground and the rest of Twinflower park, including the sports field and washrooms.

Felker sent a letter to council this month, prompting them to refer the matter to staff to come up with a solution.

“It has been recognized the park is somewhat outdated,” said Highlands administrator Chris Coates, noting the municipality has a parks improvement reserve fund of $60,000.

If council decides to move forward with enhancing the playground, “that is mostly likely where the money would come from,” Coates said.

The report from staff should come back to council in July.

The playground has been a common stop for children growing up in the district.

Even Mendum remembers taking her children to the park when they were younger.

“It is under utilized,” Felker said explaining that a nicer park would attract more residents to the park, allowing the children of Highlands to play together more often.

While the equipment is less than ideal for Felker, the park itself is in a good location and within walking distance from her home.

The mother isn’t concerned about safety at the playground, but she has witnessed “older kids getting red paint on their hands when they play on the monkey bars.”

“It would be nice if it could be a little more current,” Felker said.

Highlands has allotted $13,000 towards the maintenance of Twinflower park.

The money will cover the cost of grass cutting, garbage removal and washroom cleaning.

An additional $6,000 has been set aside to top dress the field, which was reconstructed about five years ago.

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