A rendering of the new proposed accessible playground to be built in Shipyards Park. Whitehorse council will vote March 9 on whether to sign off on the agreement for the playground. (Jumpstart)

City of Whitehorse offered new, fully-accessible playground

Officials with the Jumpstart program are offering to build the playground in Shipyards Park

A 9,500-square-foot, fully-accessible playground could open in Shipyards Park in 2021.

Whitehorse city council has been asked to accept the gift of the playground from the Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charity.

In a presentation March 2, Jumpstart ambassador Stephanie Dixon told council members about Jumpstart’s initiative that started in 2017 to build a fully, accessible and inclusive playground in each province and territory in the country.

Since then Jumpstart Playgrounds have been built in Charlottetown; Winnipeg; Calgary; Toronto; Prince Albert, Sask.; Surrey, B.C.; and Saint John, N.B.

Dixon first visited the Jumpstart playground in Surrey last year.

“Everything is double wide,” she said as she recalled the space available for those in wheelchairs to maneuver where they want to go.

For those with hearing devices who can’t normally use a metal slide due to issues with static electricity there’s roller slides that eliminate static.

For those who on the autism spectrum or with sensory processing issues or who may just simply get overwhelmed in larger crowds a dome was in place as a quiet place.

It’s a place where every child can participate and ensuring that happens at an early age is important, Dixon said.

“On the playground is where we develop our sense of self,” she said.

As the city works to make the community more accessible, why not start at the beginning with a playground, Dixon said, adding she hopes council members see the magnitude of what the playground would bring to Whitehorse.

The Whitehorse playground would be located inside the skating loop at Shipyards Park. At 9,500 square feet, it would be close to the same size as the 9,859 square foot playground at Rotary Park.

Jumpstart would design, supply and install the playground, including the rubberized surface, with the city then responsible for the ongoing maintenance. The contract between Jumpstart and the city states the city would be required to keep up maintenance for the park’s 15-year life span.

Shipyards Park was selected as it has accessible parking, an asphalt surface, washroom facilities and a water fountain. As such it is the only spot in Whitehorse that meets all the criteria for a Jumpstart playground.

As Landon Kulych, the city’s parks and community development manager, said there is also staff on hand at Shipyards Park each day, which means there will be more eyes on the playground. He also said the park’s location inside the skating loop means it will not hinder events set to happen at the park.

While council members were clear in their gratitude for the $1 million playground, Coun. Laura Cabott also raised questions about the maintenance costs stating her desire to ensure the city is ready to take it on.

City manager Linda Rapp said the costs would be absorbed into the overall operating budget for parks while Jumpstart associate vice president Marco Di Buono said most of the equipment installed into the playground come with a 15-to-20-year warranty. The equipment is also “not overly engineered,” he said, making it fairly simple to fix when there are issues.

Whitehorse city council will vote March 9 on whether to sign off on the agreement for the playground.

If the agreement is signed, construction of the new playground would begin this year with the finishing touches being put in place in the spring of 2021. It would then be open to the public.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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