With public consultation underway for replacement of the Stadacona Park playground, the prospect of an all-abilities area there for kids is a priority for the City of Victoria.
The development proposal is a product of the city’s 2017 Parks and Open Spaces Master Plan, with the first of its three goals being to “create an inclusive and accessible playground.”
As stated in the plan, the city strives to both accommodate and challenge children of all ages and abilities with specialized play equipment and site furnishings. The playground will provide ample space between all elements, resilient rubber surfacing to reduce risk of injury, and barrier-free connections to other areas and amenities in the park.
A pop-up info session will be held at the park on Wednesday, Aug. 18, during which attendees can speak with the playground planners between 4 and 6 p.m. Feedback on the proposal can be submitted online until Aug. 20.
Coun. Stephen Andrew recently endorsed the prospect of a new all-abilities playground for Victoria on Twitter. He referenced a video of a redevelopment plan by non-profit Harper’s Playground to turn the play area at Marshall Park in Vancouver, Wash. into a fully accessible and inclusive playground.
“I would like nothing more than to see (in Victoria) the types of parks that are in that video,” Andrew later told Black Press Media. “We need to make our entire society more accessible.”
While several all-accessible playgrounds do exist in Victoria, he said they are “not commonplace,” noting that roughly 20 per cent of respondents to a recent city survey stated they have a disability or mobility issues.
“We just need to change our thinking. We need to come from ‘that’s not possible’ to ‘hey, that is possible.’ If we’re restrictive with our environment, then that’s the challenge we face.”
Andrew has forwarded the Harper’s Playground design concept to the city’s parks, recreation and facilities department for future developments.
Oak Bay residents on Facebook have also deemed the playground by Willows Beach worthy of redevelopment and more accessible features, such as an all-abilities swing.
Of the existing playground, Chris Hyde-Lay, parks services manager for Oak Bay Parks, Recreation and Culture, said, “It’s aging for sure, it’s not as eye-catching as some of the others that you’re beginning to see, but it’s certainly very well used.”
Hyde-Lay said the district is embarking on a playground replacement initiative as of 2023, with one playground to be rebuilt per year, but noted the Willows facility is not a priority.
Victor School, a specialized education facility in Fernwood that the Greater Victoria School District exempted from a revised catchment boundary in 2019, is home to one of the city’s few all-abilities playgrounds.
To find out more about the Stadacona Park playground replacement project or to access the survey, visit engage.victoria.ca.
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