Whitehorse city staff say they need more money for playground upgrades

Upgrades are meant to increase accessibility and longevity of the equipment

Whitehorse city staff want to nearly double the budget for upgrades to the play equipment at Rotary Park so it can be more accessible and last longer.

Staff are asking for the budget to be increased to $400,000, up from $220,000. That money would be coming from the gas tax.

The city had budgeted $220,000 for the work which was to be completed in 2018, but “further evaluation, inspection and scope changes” have made more money necessary to do the work needed, Landon Kulych, a representative from the Department of Parks and Community Development, told council during the standing committees meeting Feb. 4.

Originally, the project was supposed to replace two of the “big toys” at the playground. Routine safety inspections have since discovered “a need for complete replacement” of all play equipment in the park, with the exception of the swings, which were replaced in 2015, he said.

Kulych did not go into specifics about what changes the city actually wanted to make to the playground. He said changes to the design now include “accessibility features to ensure play value for people of all capabilities.” This requires “protective surfacing” to be installed, which is estimated to cost $950 per 100 square feet.

The new upgrades would allow “any person with any type of ability” to access the playground, he said.

“One-hundred per cent of our population can use this, instead of only people who can run and walk with ease.

On top of the cost for new equipment, council is also being asked to fund improvements to the way the equipment is installed.

Rotary Park is next to the Yukon River, which causes “subtle changes” in the ground, Kulych said.

This has lead to playground equipment already in place “shifting and even requiring repair.” In order to prevent this and “prolong the life of the new equipment,” the city wants to use a new method of installation using a buried, welded grid instead of the originally proposed method, which used concrete.

This new method will “provide a cohesive unit that will be less affected by a moving foundation,” Kulych said, but requires a professional welder to do it and so is an added expense above the initial estimates.

Council will vote on proposed increase tonight at the Feb. 11 regular council meeting.

Contact Lori Fox at lori.fox@yukon-news.com

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