Skip to content

Opening of new playground at Gibsons Public Market draws big crowd

Thanks to $1 million donation, the new Judi 'Bubs' Libin Park and Play Centre at Gibsons Public Market officially opened June 6, with a large gathering of family and friends.

More than 200 people attended the grand opening of the Judi “Bubs” Libin Park and Play Centre at Gibsons Public Market, June 9.

Prior to the ceremony, Len Libin sat down with the Coast Reporter and, in between hugs and greetings from family and friends, spoke of his wife “Judi with an ‘I’,” who passed away from cancer in September, 2021. The Libin family donated $1 million towards the park and play centre.

“My wife always felt that there should be a park here to go along with the [Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre] but I would tell her that I didn't think there was enough space,” Libin said. “Anyway, after she passed away, I knew what she wanted and I found an area that I felt could accommodate a park.”

That “area” turned out to be located on a long, narrow strip of land, adjacent to the parking lot of Gibsons Public Market.

Libin explained just months after his wife's death, he sat down with Pam Robertson, chair of the Gibsons Community Building Society board of directors, and shared his idea. Robertson told him she that while she had spoken to Judi about creating some family-friendly additions to the market several times, she had never actually met her. As Libin and Robertson began work on the project, landscape architect Pat Campbell of PMG Landscape Architects came on board, donating her time and the design for the park and play centre.

“Pat found some land the town wasn’t using and incorporated that for the park and playground, so it became an amenity for the town as well as the market,” said Libin.

Robertson told the crowd gathered for the opening, that strip of land previously was home to a ratty hedge, blackberry bushes, gravel and weeds.  

“It was no space that anybody wanted to spend any time in and here behind us, where the lovely playground is, that was a brambles area unused and inaccessible,” she said. “So honestly, there is an amazing transformation that has taken place here today. And it is thanks to the gift from the Libin family that we were able to build the Judy “Bubs” Libin Park and Play Centre.”

The Libins have 12 grandchildren, who were the pride and joy of Judi’s life. Len Libin mentioned proudly, the eldest grandson couldn’t attend the opening because he works in Montreal for the Canadian Space Agency. Meanwhile, the other 11 grandchildren, from ages three to 15, were all available to give their input to the project during a meeting with Robertson.

“I had a very special chance, a little over a year ago, when Len asked me to come and meet with his family,” Robertson told the crowd. “And when I arrived at the house Len had everything set up, almost like a big boardroom table. He had all these tables set up and the kids were all seated around the table and we talked about our plans for the space.”

Robertson said the kids were very excited about the park and play centre and all had their opinions about what should be included.

“One of the questions I got from one of the boys… maybe from every boy, was will there be diggers in the playground, and I am very happy to say there will be two diggers,” said Robertson.

The Libins three adult children, Doran Libin, Joel Libin and Shayla King, stood and thanked family and friends for attending the opening, many travelling across country to be there.

King described their mom as having a “goofy side.”

“She would definitely be the one in the playground with the grandkids. And if she was here today, she’d be standing behind me making faces,” said King, holding back tears. “I've been talking about the word ‘bittersweet’ with the kids and this moment is truly the definition. Such a magical, beautiful day, surrounded by so many family and friends. Of course, the only way this would be better was if mom was here. However, this is her happy place. You feel her presence here, or when you see an eagle soar or when a seal head pops up, have you seen any of those? I talked to them as if it were her, so I hope you do too.”

The $1 million donation is the largest the Gibsons Community Building Society has received in its 10-year history.