FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — North Peace Family SuperPark Society President Jaandi Roemer gave a presentation to Fort St. John and District Chamber of Commerce members last week about her plans to get an accessible indoor playground built to serve the North Peace.
Roemer, who has headed the Society since its inception, said that she’s hopeful that the group can raise the money required to at least purchase playground equipment and lease an indoor space in the near future. She said that the Society has a near-term goal of raising $275,000 to get the first iteration of the facility started, with additional fundraising to help the playground grow from there.
In her presentation, Roemer stressed how the construction of an indoor playground, especially one that is suitable for children with special needs, makes economic sense. “We always travel to Grande Prairie to do our indoor recreation. As we travel to Grande Prairie, we plan our whole day. Now we’re shopping in Grande Prairie. And then, it’s a long drive back so now we’re staying in a hotel, eating at restaurants, shopping, doing our entertainment. That’s a lot of money going to another community that could stay right here.”
Roemer also showcased the benefits to physical and mental health for children in the North Peace area that the accessible indoor playground would provide. She said that as a parent of a child with other needs, she has found that many others in Fort St. John also find themselves in the same boat. According to Roemer, over 800 children in the area have been diagnosed with some type of autism spectrum disorder which she says demonstrates the large need for an indoor play area that is suitable for kids both with and without special needs.
When asked about the Society’s business model on leasing an indoor space to get the park off the ground, Roemer said that she has looked at the North Peace Gymnastics Association’s agreement with Epscan to lease the former Maxx Fitness building as an inspiration to get the park set up. Though an indoor playground was listed as the number one priority by respondents to the City’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan, Roemer explained that partnering with the City on the SuperPark could take between 15 and 20 years to get the playground built.
The SuperPark Society will be hosting its annual Masquerade Ball fundraiser later this year.