On any snowy day, families from all over Mission can be seen hurtling down the slopes at Griner Park across from Albert McMahon Elementary School.
Sleds, toboggans, huge tires, empty garbage bags — and more recently snowboards — have been mainstays at the park for decades. In 1978, the Griner family stipulated that nothing could be constructed at the park if it interferes with wintertime sledding, and that promise has been honoured.
Roy A. Griner, after whom the park is named, was a machine operator for the District of Mission for many years. When he died in 1977, he left his five acre property east of Cedar Street to the municipality stipulating that it be used for recreational purposes only.
At the park dedication in 1978, Mayor Bill Harris said, “If someone is good enough to give the land, then we should give him recognition for it. Gifts of land are not unusual, but by the same token, they are hardly common either.”
District development officer John Carter said it was the first such transaction that had taken place in Mission since 1965.
In 1992, area neighbours collected donations, constructed a walking path and cleaned up around existing plantings. In 1995, over 100 volunteers from Adopt-a-Park picked up garbage and planted a dozen mature trees donated by a local nursery. Volunteers Rita Janzen and John Janzen, and parents from Albert McMahon school had a vision for the future of the park, but dreams of installing a tennis court, beach volleyball court and skateboard park in the area have not materialized.
Over the years, trees have been planted by Communities and Bloom and others, fencing and a parking lot added, and new playground equipment installed. The original Griner home was torn down in 2008. If you have pictures or memories of sliding at Griner Park, please contact the Mission Community Archives.
Today, there is no longer an Adopt-a-Park program in Mission, but the Garden Gorillas, started in 2010, now has over a dozen active volunteers who clean up litter and pull weeds in many local parks and public places. If you are interested in getting involved, contact Mission Adopt-a-Block at 604-826-9423.
Sharon Syrette will be writing a number of columns on Mission parks and trails history in recognition of BC Heritage Week’s theme of parks and nature preserves.