It's been a long time coming, so what was one more day due to rain?
City staff began work on the second phase of the Duchess community park project Thursday, laying the groundwork for the incoming accessible playground and mini mountain bike skills park.
"It's been a process getting everything together, but we're pretty excited about starting this project," said city manager of parks and solid waste Flavio Viola.
The city partnered with School District 57 and the province three years ago to transfer the lands behind the secondary school for a community park.
The Duchess Park plan was approved last April after a public engagement process, which resulted in a call for a community facility featuring the playground, bike park, fenced dog park, amphitheatre, trails, all-weather sports field, tennis courts and more.
The trail system and dog park were completed in the first phase last year and Viola said this phase of work is expected to wrap up by the end of September.
"And then the tennis courts, which we hope to have the tender out on by the end of next week, will probably be completed by the end of October," he added. Additional amenities such as benches, picnic tables, trail lighting and lights for the tennis courts will also be installed during this current phase.
The bike skills park will simulate what young riders up to the age of 15 could expect to find out on mountain bike trails and is intended to help teach riders the necessary balance and navigational skills.
The city consulted the Prince George Cycling Club on the design of the park. "They seemed quite pleased with what's going on there," Viola said.
Another group that's pleased with the progress is the city's advisory committee on accessibility, which have been championing for a fully accessible playground that can accommodate children of every ability level.
In a June report to council, it was noted that the length of time it has taken the project to reach the construction stage has "exhausted the enthusiasm of numerous dedicated volunteers."
But the playground will be a reality by the fall, and is expected to incorporate natural play, sensory elements consisting of sand, water and wood with a northern/rural theme.
The wheelchair accessible park is the city's first, welcoming young people with "complex developmental and behavioural challenges to play with, or nearby, other children on the playground," said the committee's report. "We want adults with physical disabilities and balance disorders to feel safe coming to the playground with their children or grandchildren."
The playground received a broad range of support, with donations coming in from Fortis BC, the Prince George Community Foundation and Scotiabank.
The overall park project also received a $400,000 supplement to the city's $246,000 capital expenditure contribution from the province's Community Recreation Program.
The city made an application for a grant of more than $600,000 for the project last December, but accepted the smaller amount in March.