Benefactors sought for playground project

Updated images of the planned Caroline Bay Playground show the range of activities envisaged....
Updated images of the planned Caroline Bay Playground show the range of activities envisaged. IMAGE SUPPLIED
The committee behind plans for an ‘‘epic’’ new playground in Timaru is hoping to find a philanthropist willing to invest in the multimillion-dollar project.

While community support for the planned $2.2million playground is continuing — with the most recent substantial donation of $50,000 from local transport firm Hilton Haulage — committee members are keen for a big boost to bring fundraising closer to the target and ensure construction can begin next year.

Chairman Owen Jackson said the committee had substantial funding applications under consideration — $250,000 from the Community Trust of Mid and South Canterbury, and $150,000 each from Pub Charities and the Lion Foundation.

‘‘But no-one is putting their hand up saying, you know what, this is for the welfare of our children, to create a fun, challenging playground that’s good for children and families and is inclusive.

‘‘This would provide someone with the opportunity to give something back to the community that would be really special, and be there for generations to come.’’

An example of such support had happened in Oamaru recently, when Papakaio couple Doug and Donna Hurst gave $5million to the Waitaki Event Centre to help create ‘‘a wonderful legacy for the community’’.

With all-up costs now looking to be $2.2million — increases were due to price rises and additions of inclusive equipment — the committee had $1.4million in the bank, leaving an about $800,000 shortfall.

While fundraising efforts continued, the committee’s design team was working with Whanganui firm The Playground Centre.

‘‘The design team has been working with The Playground Centre to make sure that the pieces are the very best pieces we can get for our money,’’ Mr Jackson said.

‘‘We’ve gone really hard on authenticity for the bespoke items — the lighthouse and shipwreck — and making sure that, as much as we can, that they are inclusive.

‘‘So a child in a wheelchair can get right up to the wheel, spin the wheel and ring the bell and can go underneath and in to the shipwreck.

‘‘We’ve done everything that can ... be done within the budget to make it inclusive.’’

With the summer holidays approaching, the committee planned to ensure the project had a high profile.

It had rented an advertising trailer and signs for the six weeks over the holiday period, and a large billboard was being installed at the playground with the option of scanning in to make a donation.

The committee expected to hear the results of its major funding applications by the middle of next month.

‘‘By Christmas, we want to know, ‘here’s where we are and here’s what we need to do’.’’

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