Whitehorse toddlers and preschoolers will have a sternwheeler to call their own by the end of August.
And no — they won’t be given free reign of the SS Klondike.
Rather, they will be climbing, sliding and traversing a new part of the Rotary Peace Park playground, within sight of the Whitehorse landmark.
A section of the playground will be a dedicated space for children ages two to five. A large play structure resembling a sternwheeler will be the major feature in that part of the park with rubberized surfacing making it an easier section to traverse or take a fall.
The plans are part of the larger project to replace the playground. The swings will be the only portion of the current playground that will stay.
Council voted April 23 to award the $389,900 playground contract to Blue Imp of Medicine Hat, Alberta.
Along with the sternwheeler style play structure for younger kids, for the older crowd there’s a series of climbing structures, monkey bars and platforms leading to a play structure with a gazebo-like top complete with three larger slides, two small slides and multiple ways to climb up the structure.
The asphalt path through the current playground will remain with ramps off of it to get to the platforms of the larger play structures, including a piece in the shape of a dog sled.
Incorporating the sternwheeler and dogsled into the proposed playground for Whitehorse “was a no-brainer,” Blue Imp sales manager Michael Rasmussen said.
Having worked on a number of supply contracts for playground equipment in the city as well as the supply and installation for a variety of schools in the territory over the years, Rasmussen has been to Whitehorse a number of times and knows the significance of the paddle wheeler to the city’s history — as well as the nation, with the SS Klondike designated as a national historic site. The boat is also part of the city’s logo and given the close proximity to the SS Klondike, the piece seemed a natural fit for the park, Rasmussen said.
The dog sled feature incorporates northern culture and an important part of Whitehorse community events into the playground, Rasmussen explained.
The dog sled is one of the pieces planned for the park that will be accessible for all, with accessibility being highlighted as important for the site in the request for proposals to make the playground more accessible.
While youngsters will essentially have a new playground at Rotary Peace Park this summer, it will mean closure of the popular space for a period while the city takes out the current structures to make way for the new ones.
Landon Kulych, the city’s manager of parks and community development, said it would likely take two to three days to dismantle the equipment in place now.
Rasmussen said it would then take about another three weeks to install the new equipment as well as the rubberized surfacing for the toddler/preschool area, provided the weather cooperates.
Optimal weather conditions are required for the installation of the rubberized surfacing.
The city and Blue Imp will establish a schedule for the work as part of the contract to be signed.
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