Park perfect the way it is

The Haney Farmers Market is just one of the uses for the park.

The Haney Farmers Market is just one of the uses for the park.

Editor, The News:

Re: Ideas sought for green space in heart of MR downtown (The News, May 13).

The Haney Farmers Market Society is strongly in favour of retaining this grassy area as part of the landscape of Memorial Peace Park.

It does not need a lot of costly improvement.

With a little levelling off of the ground to fix the low spots, improved drainage and a bit of perimeter landscaping, this area is perfect the way it is.

A useful addition might be a shelter of some sort in the corner near the over height parking area that could house electrical and water hook-ups and covered space for a few picnic tables.

Having an open space such this in the centre of downtown is an incredible asset for the community and it has been used to capacity by a whole host of festivals and events over the years:  the Haney Farmers Market and its 60-plus vendors fill it on Canada Day; Doggie Day utilizes its space for the dog parade and competition; people put out blankets and picnic on it during the Caribbean Festival while they enjoy the music; the swim club and its visitors from throughout British Columbia camp on it over their competition weekend; the antique car club loves its shady spaces for their special displays;   Remembrance Day activities, which are getting larger every year, utilize most of this area; the jazz and blues festival, while it was functioning, utilized this space; similarly, Bard on the Bandstand, evening concerts at the bandstand, Earth Day, Christmas in the Park and cycling events have all used this space at one time or another.

The Olympic Torch Relay Celebration saw close to 10,000 gathered in the downtown, and filled this space.

Large public events such as these would be far more difficult to accommodate without this area which opens Memorial Peace Park to the street.

When considering the needs of all these present users of this space, the only additional amenities that might be useful would include underground electricity for vendor hook-ups and water outlets for wash station connections.

Inexpensive additions might include picnic tables under the trees and a place from which summer movies could be shown.

The value of open public spaces in the centre of a downtown is beyond dispute.  Older communities of all sizes in Europe, Central and South America and most of the world have been established around open public plazas.

These areas are the heart of the community and create a public venue where citizens can meet, picnic, lunch together and celebrate community events.

Accessible and attractive public spaces in the centre of town are among the most powerful contributors to creating a vibrant, engaged and functional community.

As the downtown become denser, the rarest and most valuable commodity is available park space.

Hotel and other building sites are available and are being developed elsewhere in the downtown core.

This lovely addition to Memorial Peace Park boasts the largest mature trees in the downtown and has, for some time, been utilized successfully as a de facto part of the park.

The wonderful open space of Memorial Peace Park, unimpeded by tall buildings, is not duplicated in any other Fraser Valley community, to my knowledge.

This makes Maple Ridge a logical destination for large festivals such as the Caribbean Festival.

It creates a remarkable and increasingly valuable asset for present and future citizens of Maple Ridge.

Ian Brooks, chair

Haney Farmers Market Society