INNISFAIL – The town is a step closer to having its first fully accessible and all-inclusive children’s playground.
At town council’s Agenda & Priorities Meeting on March 21, Steven Kennedy, the town’s director of operational services, presented an update on the selection and process for the replacement of the playground at Napoleon Park Sports Fields that was removed in 2021 to make room for the upgrade of the Diamond 7 ball field.
In his report to council Kennedy said the town has set aside a maximum budget of $275,000 (not including GST) for the project and is partnering with the Innisfail Kinsmen and Variety – the Children’s Charity of Alberta, an organization that supports children who are living with disabilities and specialized needs in communities across the province.
Council was told by Kennedy the design criteria for the new playground is focused on accessibility and inclusion.
Variety is helping the Kinsmen with project fundraising and providing the expertise needed to ensure the project is accessible and fully inclusive to all children in town.
“None of the ones we have currently are fully accessible because none of them have the hard rubber surface play structure,” said Tim Ainscough, who is chairing the project of the Kinsmen.
He noted the now closed Chinook Center School had a hard surface playground that was inclusive but lacked the necessary features.
“This one will have, depending on what we build, the swings that the wheelchair could go on, or on a merry-go-round, and it would be hard rubber surface so there would be protection if you fall,” said Ainscough.
He said the service club was originally looking at Mac’s Park at 41 Street and 53 Avenue for a playground project, but was turned down for a provincial Community Facility Enhancement Fund grant.
Ainscough said the focus then turned to a new playground at Napoleon Park Sports Fields. He said Mac’s Park is on the Kinsmen funding radar for next year.
He said the Kinsmen were able to secure a $10,000 grant this year from the federal Enabling Accessibility Fund that will go towards the Napoleon Park Sports Fields playground project.
Ainscough added fundraising will continue for the project, which is expected to be built this year.
Kennedy told council a request for proposal for project builders was closed on Feb. 22 and nine submissions were received. All the proposals were evaluated based on equipment, surface, schedule and proposal content.
The scoring results were out of 25 points, with Park N Play achieving 22 points and GLVT getting 21.
Kennedy said the town is planning to engage the community for the final selection by posting and displaying the two highest scoring options on social media and at various local locations, including the upcoming 2022 Spring Trade Show on April 1 and 2.
Council was told final renderings for the displays will be provided by the two selected contractors.
As for the public feedback on the final choice, Ainscough said it is welcomed.
“Hopefully we will get some input from families that have kids that will benefit from this,” he said. “Any time we can get public involvement that is a good thing.”