With outdoor spaces enjoying a surge in popularity since the pandemic began, people in Moncton have weighed in on the improvements they would like to see in Centennial Park.
An improvement plan for the "lower bowl," which is the flood-prone site of the former Centennial Beach, includes several changes intended to boost the park's use.
Dan Hicks, director of parks operations for the City of Moncton, said there were plenty of ideas from the public to make the park more functional in all four seasons.
He said people asked for natural spaces, better connectivity of trails, improved lighting and more benches.
What he didn't expect was the amount of interest in basketball.
"There is a basketball court that's down there that seems to be somewhat orphaned and separated from the park, but we did hear that that was something that people really wanted--was basketball," he said.
The proposed plan will make better use of the Kaboom hockey rink, located in the upper portion of the park near the entrance.
"What we're planning to do with basketball is to basically take it from that lower bowl area but move it up by the playground space and increase the amount of basketball playing surface," Hicks said. "And in the wintertime that will double as a better surface for the hockey rink."
He said there was also a lot of interest in a skating trail. Many people have memories of skating around the island in Centennial Park pond, but because of ice thickness, the city hasn't been able to service that area for the past few years.
The new plan includes a 400 metre trail in the lower bowl that would be three-and-a-half metres, or 12 feet, wide.
"We will flood [the trail] in the winter time and you can skate in a continuous loop around and along this trail," he said.
"We also have some programmable LED lighting that can change colour and have animations and really liven up the space."
Other plans include an improved sliding hill with a plowed return trail, a pond lookout with seating and shelter and replacement of the bridge to Colvert Trail.
Hicks said the proposed plans were posted on LetsChatMoncton.ca, so people could voice their opinions. Tentative plans have been drawn up.
The city has set aside $1.6 million for the improvements, and the plans will be presented to Moncton city council for approval Monday night.
If approved the tendering process will begin. Hicks expects that if all goes well, the tenders will be awarded before the scheduled municipal elections in May.
Hicks said Centennial Park is Moncton's "Central Park," offering the widest variety of activities for all ages. He hopes the changes to the lower bowl will help to widen its appeal.