Natural playground coming to Tilley Memorial Park

As part of larger upgrades at Tilley Memorial Park, council is working on the design of a natural playground.

As part of a list of upgrades that the Village of Canal Flats will be doing at Tilley Memorial Park this year, council is currently working on finding a suitable design for the creation of a playground within the park.

At the town council meeting on July 11th, council received three different proposals for the design of the structure and debated the merits of each design. As part of the Canada 150 Grant that was awarded to the Village for renovating Tilley Memorial Park, $50,000 was budgeted to spend on a playground at the beach.

The grant specifies that the money allotted to the playground must be used in 2016, forcing village council to move forward on construction in the immediate future, said Coun. Paul Marcil.

Kompan, Play Mart and Blue Imp are the three companies that put forward proposals for the park with quotes all in the range of the budgeted $50,000. A common theme among the various designs was the focus on using as much natural materials as possible to follow the original intentions of the Master Plan created by K. Salin Land Planning earlier in the year.

According to the Master Plan, this idea of going natural is vital for the playground development as children around the world are falling into a “nature deficit.” This deficit has produced a trend in playground construction, visible at parks such as daycares and schools across the country, for increased use of materials like rocks and variously shaped pieces of wood in the construction of playground equipment.

Despite the shared focus on natural play, council elected to break into a sub-committee to overhaul the plan for the playground. Councillors Marie Delorme and Marcil will spearhead the talks with Interim Chief Administrative Officer Sylvie Hoobanoff also aiding in discussion. One of the key areas they need to define is the age group that they are trying to build the park for, said Delorme.

“My points were that when you build a playground, you need to know who you’re building it for and council hadn’t really talked about what age group we’re trying to please, for one thing,” she said. “The other thing is some of the components in the actual visual we had pictures of, to me, did not look like they fit at a beach or one was not really aesthetically pleasing.”

The group of Councillors met last week to discuss how they could make improvements to the park so they could work with prospective developers going forward before settling on a final design. One of the improvements Delorme said she would like to make to the proposed designs will be to limit the amount of coloured metal structures in the park to make it blend in with the natural environment at the beach.

At council, she proposed other playground ideas such as stepping logs that would help children work on their balance or fossil sample dig-ups that could get more use and excitement from users than traditional climbing structures.

Delorme said the plan will be to settle on a design in the coming weeks before starting construction in September this year when the beach sees far less visitors.