INNISFAIL – Following an extensive public survey, passionate council debate on accessibility and a second contractor design, the Town of Innisfail is finally moving ahead with two new playground contracts.
The contracts that were finally approved by Innisfail town council on May 8 will now see new partially accessible playgrounds built at Cannon and Mac’s/Kinsmen parks.
The approved Cannon Park facility, which is designed by Park N Play Design, is costing $139,729.99 while the Mac’s playground contract to PlayQuest Recreation has a price tag of $89,706.78.
Both projects are being funded from the town’s Recreation & Culture Reserve.
On April 24, the contracts for the two partially accessible playgrounds were brought to town council following public input through a public survey in late March and early April, and design displays at the Spring Trade Show on March 31 and April 1.
While town council liked the designs there was concern the two facilities were not fully accessible, like the dazzling new $275,000 playground at the north end of the Napoleon Park Sports Field.
Administration told council that to make both playgrounds fully accessible it would cost significantly more.
Council directed administration to go back to both contractors and come back with fully accessible designs for both playgrounds but at the same cost as each partially accessible design that was presented on April 24.
At the May 8 regular council meeting both fully accessible options were presented and the decision was made by council to stay with the original partially accessible designs for both playgrounds as they would have more features and structures.
“I would rather see more structures and unfortunately then they'd be the odd person, depending on their disability, who couldn’t use them all,” said Coun. Gavin Bates. “But they could probably use as many as they're going to get under the modified version anyway, so then the playground is more useful en masse.”
Steven Kennedy, the town’s director of operations, said the original designs were a “compromise” made by the designers in terms of access and project value.
“What we consider partially accessible, yes, it is limited access on the structures,” said Kennedy. “When the designers looked at it, they gave them the most accessibility to the playground itself; to play within the playground, knowing that access onto a structure wasn't going to be there.
“I definitely understand where you're coming from when it comes to on-structure access but when we talked to the designers, it’s what they felt to be the most compromise for the value of the playground,” he added.
Responding to a question from Bates, Kennedy said there were no “verbal” concerns raised about the accessibility issue during the trade show public design viewing.