New Prince Albert playground should have wheelchair accessible surfacing, mom says
PRINCE ALBERT -- Sarah Turnbull says wood chips, engineered wood chips, pebbles and sand are difficult to navigate with wheelchairs and walkers.
She’d like the City of Prince Albert to consider surfacing material other than wood chips when accepting the proposed designs for the new playground at Little Red River Park provided by the Rotary Club of Prince Albert.
“It sends a really powerful message to leave people on the sidelines,” said Turnbull.
Turnbull often travelled from Tisdale to use the Jumpstart Playground in Prince Albert because the rubberized surfacing made it easy to access with her daughter’s wheelchair.
She says the Jumpstart Playground is great, but an inclusive community to her means building public spaces that are accessible to disabled people so can be with their friends and family.
“I think every municipality and city planner should have a policy in place to address accessibility and inclusivity,” said Turnbull.
The City of Prince Albert’s Parks and Open Space Manager for the project, Tim Yeaman, said in an email to CTV News, he could not provide a comment as he has not had any official correspondence from disability advocates and “any consideration on our part would require a proper assessment on their suggestions.”
The Rotary Club of Prince Albert is raising money to donate towards upgrades at Little Red River Park northeast of the city.
The artist renderings of the Rotary Adventure Park play structure planned for Little Red includes three play areas with three climbing towers geared towards children eight to 14.
“We’ve had nothing but positive feedback,” said the president of the Rotary Club of Prince Albert, Keith Fonstad. “And everybody that we’ve talked to is just super excited to have this for kids. Whether it’s the school groups that come out, whether it’s the families that are here for the picnic sites.”
The budget for phase one of the Little Red River Park upgrades with the Rotary Adventure Park play structure is between $900,000 to $1 million, according to Fonstad.
The Rotary Club of Prince Albert will contribute $520,000 to the project and the City of Prince Albert will cover the remaining expenses. The club also plans to donate money to upgrade picnic shelters and picnic tables at the park.
“It will be as accessible as we can make it. It is a natural playground. We won’t be able to, because of the sandy nature of the ground, we won’t be able to make it accessible as say the Alfred Jenkins Field House Playground,” said Fonstad.
The president of Barrier Free Saskatchewan, Robin East, says they’re working with the province to develop legislation similar to the Accessible Canada Act to address access to public spaces.
“We want to take the reactive piece out of all this. Take that complaint process and move it away and we want to come up with something progressive and proactive,” said East.
East said he’s been advocating for accessible outdoor spaces for 25 years. He says he’s asked community planners to make one or two features at playgrounds accessible to people with disabilities and if extra costs are incurred he suggests that communities partner with charities and business to cover extra costs.
“Instead of waiting for people to complain, maybe they need to look at it and say how can we be proactive and make this good for all of our citizens within Prince Albert,” said East.
He says accessibility is still an issue with municipal governments.
The Rotary Club of Prince Albert had the Adventure Park designed by Canadian Recreation Solutions. The city says if things go according to plan, construction on the Adventure Park will be complete in the summer of 2022.