When is park play equipment the right park play equipment?

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Landscape Structures Playground equipment in Halifax NS.

The improvements to the playground equipment in Vine Parkette and Sir Casimir Gzowski Park, were much welcomed efforts by the Toronto Parks department. The Sir Casimir Gzowski Park project stands out for the wonderful and successful work of the Toronto Parks department — Manager Partnership Development, as the project was funded and organized by the Partnership Development section in the amount of a $80,000 donation from “Bay Street Fore A Cau$e”. Securing these funds where no monies were available in the Toronto Parks capital budget was a great achievement. {full report in link opens in new window}

Toronto Parks has a good Partnership Development Department. But one wonders if the department in charge of the choice and installation of the play structures could seek out more innovative and creative equipment for our community parks. The City of Toronto has to be highly concerned about the liability and safety issues of all children’s play structures, but does safety not need to be balanced with child motor skill development, creative play and mostly fun.

Landscape Structures Inc's "Evos" climbers slide

Landscape Structures Inc's "Evos" climbers slide

Enhancements that would have particular benefit of our inner city parks:

  • a challenging playground for the creative mind and body
  • provide physical fitness benefits which would help combat the rise in childhood obesity
  • a well designed structure which encourages social interaction and builds positive interpersonal skills
  • an environment which is inclusive to those with different abilities
  • scenarios which would promote parent-child play

To achieve this goal the City staff whom are responsible for design, safety and management of play structure installation will have to work alongside several other key City departments. Consultation needs to be done with the Risk Management Department and the City Solicitor to examine how to create play structures which ensure the utmost safety for children yet does not sacrifice the creative and physical development of the child.

An example of a company which has a very reputable history of designing challenging yet, safe play structures for children is Landscape Structures [link] which is located in Delano, MN. The company is represented in Canada by ABC Recreation of Paris, Ontario [link]

Landscape Structures statement on their site

Research shows that children who have opportunities to play in natural settings are typically healthier and more likely to become adults who will respect and protect the earth.

Landscape Structures, the premier provider of innovative playground [Link opens in new window]

Xwave park play toy

Xwave park play toy

Another interesting company is Xccent’ playground components [link] one of their products the x-wave is similar to an old seesaw but can fit up to 20 kids.

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  1. Another important partner in playground design is the community, whose role it is to tell the city what type of activities should be available for the neighbourhood the park services.

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