A Park & Playground Preserved
Cadboro-Gyro Park in Saanich, British Columbia, Canada
By Jayme Friedt
When Saanich Park Planners, along with members of the Cadboro Bay community, set out to make much-needed upgrades to the historic Cadboro-Gyro Park, they knew they were in for a great undertaking. After all, their beloved waterfront park, with its seaside theme and beautiful views of the Juan de Fuca Strait, had been a significant fixture in the community for more than 60 years and held cherished memories for generations of residents, business owners and visitors alike.
Knowing it was essential to get feedback and garner consensus from the community, stakeholders embarked on what would be a five-year public engagement process that involved several open houses, many community and staff meetings, various presentations, a facilitated workshop and several surveys.
"One of the most consistent and heartfelt responses we heard from the community was their dedication to preserving the park's unique character," said Mike Goldsworthy, a landscape architect with Saanich Parks. "People have been enjoying this park for decades. They wanted to be sure when the new park was complete, it would still be recognizable."
Home to three enormous concrete sea creatures, originally constructed in the 1960s, preserving the park's unique character was not your run-of-the-mill endeavor.
The legendary Cadborosaurus, a fabled relative of the Loch Ness monster said to occasionally haunt the waters at Cadboro Bay, was able to stay put, but both a blue salmon and a red octopus had to be relocated.
At 15 tonnes, with its eight protruding appendages, the octopus posed the biggest challenge.
"From the outside, it must have looked like we were all a bit crazy," laughed Goldsworthy, commenting on the team of "movers" who stood curiously staring at the beast while devising their plan. Finally, the task was put to a local crane company to attach each tentacle and its body to a large overhead rigging using chains and strapping, and lift the octopus so it could be swung to its new location some 50 feet away.
Having saved the sea creatures, planners had to tackle one other major hurdle before continuing any further. Because of the park's location, addressing critical drainage issues was essential.
"The park was literally sinking," said Goldsworthy, describing the very unstable peat bog on which the original park was built. In addition to that, annual flooding occurred, rendering the playground unusable for several months of the year. "With those problems and sand that was either washed up or tracked up from the beach, the park's playground—and in particular the octopus—was slowly being buried."
To correct drainage and stabilization concerns, Goldsworthy, with the assistance of geotechnical engineers, had the surface scraped and filled with gravel. On top of the bed of gravel, rolls of geo-grid were laid down, backfilled with more gravel and then topped with various ground cover including rubber tile made from recycled tires installed in one of the playground areas.
Improving accessibility to allow persons with limited mobility to fully experience park amenities was a primary intention of park planners. A ramp leading to the beach and water's edge was constructed, and a ship, also original to the park, received new decking, railings and a ramp to make it more accessible. The need to upgrade asphalt surfacing throughout the park provided an opportunity to showcase a beautifully painted compass at the central hub of the park's pathway system.
With the site now stable, the next step was adding new play equipment. To further enhance the seaside theme RecTec Industries supplied the park with polyfibercrete (PFC) structures manufactured by UPC Parks. They include several more sea creatures, giant logs, rocks, wood crates, a treasure chest, lighthouse and even customized barrels stamped with Brigantine Cadborough, a Hudson's Bay Company ship that anchored in the bay in the 1830s.
"PFC is a specially formulated concrete mix that is ideal for creating boulders, logs and critters," said Sheldon Stanley, sales consultant with RecTec Industries. "The two types of synthetic fiber used in PFC provide structural integrity, and the formula along with the process to create the pieces produces micro-cracks, divots and air bubbles that make for a very realistic, natural look."
Lying scattered across the playground and sticking half out of the sand, the new PFC pieces create a delightful shipwreck scene that fits perfectly with the existing iconic concrete sculptures already in the park.
"The new equipment provides even more inspiration to children's imaginations," Goldsworthy said. "It's definitely a place where they can create their own adventures and memories, just like their parents and grandparents before them!"
Today Cadboro-Gyro Park is truly a one-of-a-kind ocean playground. Since construction completed in October 2014, the park has been getting rave reviews from Cadboro Bay residents and all who visit it. With upgrades that have drastically improved the park's usability and sustainability, plus the perfect combination of old and new features, this beautiful community legacy is sure to be enjoyed by many more generations to come.