By: Shira Rocklin
In 2017, Shira Rocklin initiated a committee to evaluate the recent playground upgrades in Ward 5. Over the past several years a number of playgrounds have been replaced, to the delight of the community’s children. Yorkhill Park has been the most significant change, while Heatherton Parkette has seen a wonderful update.
Seeing that other playgrounds may be approaching the age at which they would be replaced, we decided to consult with a group of volunteer parents from Ward 5 to talk about what has been working, and not working, regarding these new play structures. The goal was to write up a report for the City of Vaughan containing our recommendations for various aspects of future park updates.
The Playgrounds Committee spent an evening brainstorming and discussing the various pros and cons of different playground structures, surfacing, water features, levels of danger and adventure, etc. They created some broad parameter recommendations, along with a set of specific ideas regarding the playgrounds that seem most likely to be updated soon. Much research of nearby towns’ play spaces choices, news and research about playground safety, along with plain-old hands on experience with our very own children, guided the writing of this document.
The recommendations document can be found here. This article will be updated as the process of meeting with the city progresses, to report on the results of our endeavors.
On June 11th, 2018, the chairperson of the SFRA’s Parks Committee, Shira Rocklin, met with Richard Fournier, a Project Manager from Parks Development and Vito, from Park Operations, to discuss the suggestions for future park improvement. The suggestions were developed based on SFRA and community collaboration last fall. While the City of Vaughan must consider many factors – such as budgets, safety regulations, etc – Richard and Vito spoke very positively about hearing from the SFRA and community regarding our suggestions for our future parks. Because of this meeting, a relationship has been established and the SFRA has been noted as a stakeholder in future playground improvements between Yonge St. and Bathurst St., Centre St. and Steeles Ave. That means that the SFRA will be asked for input as future playground improvements are required.
The issues raised in our document (to view please go to www. .com) were also issues of interest for the City – materials safety, playground structure safety, choices in surfacing, bringing back water fountains and sand boxes, balancing children’s need for adventure with keeping them safe, and making the best use of the funds budgeted for playground upgrades. One specific detail was learned – future playground surfacing will only be rubber tile (at district parks) and engineered wood chips (non-district parks). TheParks Committee will continue to keep the community apprised of new playground developments as they becomes available and ask for the community’s involvement when feasible and/or important.