The Comox Valley Child Development Association’s outdoor play space renovations are taking shape.

They started in April, with the goal of creating a natural sensory environment and therapy.

Currently, the space is used mainly by The Autism Program (TAP) because it’s situated next to the facility’s Comox Valley Autism Centre. 

The Early Intervention Therapy (EIT) Building, right next door, offers programs including physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech and language pathology. 

These program’s therapists say they’re “very much looking forward to the potential the upgrades will bring and to be able to expand their therapy sessions outdoors.” 

According to the CVCDA, the improved outdoor space complete with specialty play equipment, obstacles and sensory features “will now provide a more naturalistic, ‘fun’ environment to motivate their children through challenging tasks.”

So far, through the first phase of construction, the play space has seen some excavating to regrade some of the more unfriendly slopes, add a retaining wall and make the space j more accessible. 

There has also been the addition of newly built and repurposed outdoor storage, and play structures including some sand play still to come. 

This phase will be topped off with some fresh landscaping including lush new sod, wood chips for under climbing structures and slide, shrubs and a tree planted to provide shade to the space.

The association says the future phase will add some of the more nuanced therapy ‘equipment/tools’ such as sensory play panels, a water feature, raised garden beds, a bridge/tunnel and other extras including wheelie toys and loose parts.

The CVCDA is crediting community partners for helping bring the project to life. 

Long-time partners through the play space upgrades has included the local Comox Valley McDonald’s Restaurants and their annual McHappy Day fundraiser.

Local owners, Jess and Stuart Aldred made a large financial contribution early on in the conception phase of the project to see it through to completion.

Since those early days, the project has evolved and grown in scope.

It also benefited from the support of Courtenay Rotary. 

“Not only have the Rotarians contributed financially but also through their collaborative support leading the project and volunteering a large number of the labour hours needed to complete the play space,” the CVCDA said in a release.

Courtenay Rotararian Chris Swift is the Project Leader and has been overseeing the site and working with the countless Rotary volunteers. 

The CVCDA says Peter Ashmore “has also been an invaluable resource providing consulting services from the early stages of planning even leading our staff and committee through focus groups. He has continually been involved at every stage right down to assisting the CVCDA with sourcing and/or building the right equipment to complete the space.”

The CVCDA is also once again working with its construction partner, Lacasse Construction.

Other local businesses have also been great contributors of materials, equipment, supplies and labour including Hyland Precast and Pilon Tool Rentals.

You can follow the progress through various phases here

About the CVCDA

The Comox Valley Child Development Association is non-profit organization locally supporting children with special needs and their families for 45 years. 

In 2020, over 1,000 Comox Valley children and their families used services at the CVCDA.