Playground tycoon has ties to the Peace Region

You never know when a Swiss army knife will come in handy.

When the giant novelty scissors wouldn’t cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the Fort St. John McDonald’s new playground, Trevor Zahara saved the day by pulling out his Swiss army knife and getting the job done.

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Zahara is the president of Peak Play Environments, the company responsible for the new playground, and was on hand for the opening.

“It is wonderful coming back to this community and having roots here and seeing the family values and community values that (owner Bryan Boresky) brings to the table is a stellar example for anyone in business,” he said.

So how does one become a playground tycoon?

Zahara grew up on a homestead on the banks of where the Smokey River meets the Peace River in Alberta, but he spent his fair share of time in the B.C. Peace Region.

As his grandparents owned the North Pine General Store, he and his family spent a lot of time in the region.

“I remember crawling around as a kid in the basement around the inventory that was left over after the store shut down and seeing the gas pump outside,” said Zahara.

In the mid-1980s, Zahara was working at a treatment facility for emotionally disturbed children and making toys and furniture out of wood as a hobby, when he was asked if he could build a backyard playground for a local family.

From there, the idea was planted. In the summers, he worked on designing and building playgrounds, and would work doing commercial renovations in the winters.

It wasn’t until 1995, when his company landed the contract to supply McDonald’s with playgrounds that Zahara became a full-time playground provider. He’s responsible for all the restaurant’s playgrounds in Western Canada and has opened playgrounds all over the world.

He attributes his drive and focus to his experiences growing up.

“I grew up on a farm where you have to be smart about your expenditures and where you focus your enterprise—I learned a fantastic work ethic there and I bring that to what I do today.”

Zahara has worked with Boresky for the last 15 years, in both his Fort St. John and Dawson Creek locations, and has always been impressed with his commitment to the community.

“He pushes the envelope on what he pushes in the community because he supports the community and the community supports him, and that’s very good for my business.”

Zahara is a strong believer in an active lifestyle, which is what a playground essentially stands for.

He noted that while he worked on installation of the FSJ playplace, he witnessed parents and grandparents leading children through the structure, which he was pleased to see.

“It engages the family to participate together and engage in physical movement,” he said, which can lead to “confidence building and growth and agility and strength. For the family that can engage their children in those types of activities, you can’t go wrong.”

Zahara feels movement is important for everyone at all stages of life.

“I think movement is so crucial for us. You know if you’re pondering one of the challenges we face in life, go for a walk. Get some movement, get some exercise, and I think that offers an opportunity for being positive.”

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