The District of Saanich Parks department has applied for a grant to fund improvements at Rutledge Park and expects to have an answer later this summer.
If the funding is received, upgrades could include playground enhancements, a water park and the installation of washrooms.
The Quadra Cedar Hill Community Association has been championing upgrades for many years at the public park, bordered by Cloverdale Avenue, Inverness Road and Rutledge Street and used by people of all ages and abilities.
For the past 15 years, the association has also supported such district-led events as the popular concerts in the park series featuring local bands.
“These events happen in Rutledge more often because it’s such a big park and there is a natural slope where a stage is put up,” said association president Susan Haddon. “People come and bring picnics, we have face painting and clowns and various things going on. It’s a lovely community builder, with about 800 to 1,000 people attending.
Those evenings saw portable washrooms brought in, however, the community association has been pushing for permanent facilities for some time. “We think washrooms are an essential service,” said Haddon, adding the concerts highlighted the need for various upgrades at the park.
In 2016 Saanich applied for a Canada 150 Infrastructure Program grant, but Rutledge Park upgrades weren’t approved to receive funding. A new grant opportunity came up and the district applied for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.
Haddon is an advocate for ensuring everyone has access to green space and believes the improvements will help bring everyone together by the time it’s safe to do so.
“Bringing the community together in parks has been critical during this COVID period especially. It’s where we meet, it’s where we make friends, it’s where children learn to socialize and where they learn about nature and why one might want to protect it,” she said.