The City of Maple Ridge acquired one-acre of land south of the newly constructed Blaney Hamlet Park for a community gathering place intended to be the social heart and community hub. Approved by Council as a priority capital project, the Silver Valley Gathering Place will be integrated into and complement the new park. Public engagement found the proposed gathering place pavilion, youth action area, community gardens, park pathways, creek crossings, and additional park open space improvements are welcome community amenities. They will encourage community interaction with both active and passive recreation areas.
The outdoor dining pavilion features an outdoor kitchen and accessible washroom facilities. The structure will accommodate 20-30 people with seating options included on an open, wood deck. The pavilion is sited near the community gardens to connect associated activities. The community gardens of raised accessible wood containers and has been designed to allow for growth.
The youth action area includes a looping asphalt pump track, a skateboard area with street and urban features, and a parkour/obstacle course. We have taken advantage of the rolling topography of the site the design of the new skate park and pump track elements. We are maximizing the sites natural features to reduce our environmental impact.
The adjacent Blaney Hamlet Park north of the project area offered a play area, sport court, seating, and open grass area. This served the community well at the time of its development, but the rapid growth of the area led to the need for more amenities. Our original project area did not include any of the existing facilities. So, our approach to site planning was to holistically consider both the existing Blaney Hamlet Park and future Silver Valley Gathering Place. Siting of the gathering pavilion and washrooms needed to be central to all components, both existing and new. New pathway connections, seating, and integration of the grassed area blurred the project lines to blend both areas to read and function as one cohesive community space instead of two. The municipality welcomed this approach, and we were also asked to expand the existing playground to include much-requested play elements to complement the existing site.
Challenges included anticipating future phases of development: community gardens, neighbouring BMX track (outside of our scope), new roadway construction along park frontage, and integration of the existing conditions/context such as linking to existing utility connections and the community trail network beyond park boundaries. Attention to how connections and coordination are made with existing utilities and site grading/drainage is critical to avoid complications for future phases of work and adjustments newly completed areas.
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