Residents of the South Kamloops neighbourhood pocket of Sagebrush are becoming increasingly intrepid in their efforts to create a sense of community.
And on Sunday, neighbours celebrated significant victory in that quest with the grand opening of Cowan Park.
The Kori family has been in the neighbourhood for generations.
Four generations of Koris gathered at the event, which coincided with the eldest parents’ 50th wedding anniversary.
“There are lots of memories here,” said Kay Mori as she watched her adult granddaughter help her own children decorate the new asphalt with chalk drawings.
“We used to play tennis here,” said Kay’s daughter Sandra Kori.
“I think it’s important (to save the park),” said Kay.
As the event got underway, Sunday’s high winds blew down temporary fencing on the property, but even that didn’t hinder the enthusiasm.
“This is an analogy for (dropping) the fences between neighbours,” said Coun. Donovan Cavers to cheers.
The piece of land wasn’t even defined as a park in the City’s plans, said acting mayor Marg Spina, who lives in the area, during the ribbon-cutting event.
It was relegated to developable land in the master plan without knowing that locals had been using it as a park for decades.
It took an organized force of neighbours, inaugurated as the Sagebrush Neighbourhood Association in October 2011, to bring awareness to City planners and council members.
“It’s our neighbourhood and it’s up to us to decide on the development of our neighbourhood,” said association chair Don Ferguson. “I really feel strongly about that.”
Once aware, the municipality responded with $50,000 in revitalization funds to create courts for tennis, basketball and all manner of activities.
“If we lose this park land, we can’t get it back,” said Spina. “This is not just for everyone who lives here, but for everyone who will live here.”
The park is only the beginning of the Sagebrush Neighbourhood Association’s community initiatives.
Member Carman Anne-Schulz also announced on Sunday the association received a commitment from Fortis natural gas suppliers that a right of way for an underground pipe on the border of the park will be developed into part of a trail network and possibly a community garden.