Cappy Yates Park in downtown Nanaimo is getting a massive facelift thanks to the energy of a dedicated young man and a team of volunteers.
Doug Wortley, who co-owns Arrowsmith Aerial Photography and is a member of Young Professional of Nanaimo, YPN, started the project after the YPN cleaned up the space last fall.
Blackberries and weeds were cut, brush was cleared and a gravel path was put in.
“Basically there was a huge weekend where a lot of stuff was done. Then nothing happened,” says Wortley.
“I live in the neighborhood and I was upset that so little was done with such a prime piece of property.
I know it’s private property but we can’t just let it rot.”
The Old City Quarter Association has a contract with owner Paul Soroya to give 90 days notice to remove any structures that are being installed when he plans to develop the property.
Saroya says he’s pleased to see the efforts being used to rejuvenate the area
“I’m very happy it’s being used for community purposes.”
Saroya says the property is free of charge for the revitalization purposes and he has also taken out liability insurance for its use.
Wortley has a park plan on a facebook page that shows where a community board will be located, an art walk, a community garden with fruit and vegetables, a sloped flower and rock garden and a stage for music and events.
He is working with a team of volunteers and members of YPN to make the changes take place.
Wortley says he plans to put in an art walk with structures and paintings. Large rocks bordering the park along the street will be spray painted artistically to attract passerbys.
“I contacted a local artist to spray paint pieces along the street,” says Wortley. “Every month it’s going to have a new stencil.”
Erin MacDonald, marketing and events co-ordinator for the Old City Quarter Association, says the revitalization of the park will bring more people to the area and local businesess, which are supporting the park plan.
“It’s a piece of property that could be a highlight for the Old City Quarter. It’s fantastic to see it used in a positive way.”
Wortley also has historical pieces planned as part of the art walk, since the property has a strong historical connection. It was initially owned by a Captain Arthur Fitzgerald Yates, who owned a mansion on the property which was torn down in the early 1980s.
In the late 1980s it was named Cappy Yates Park and used for special events and concerts, at one time featuring performers such as David Gogo. That fell apart and the park fell into disrepair.
The latest efforts by Wortley and other volunteers are being met with support by people in the area. Wortley says he has dropped off 50 proposals to local businesses and has received donations ‘in kind’ for items such as the recent paint job on a wooden structure at one end of the property.
He also has plans to light up the large tree on the property for the festive season from December to January. For more details, see the facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CappyYatesPark