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Accessible playgrounds

14-Jun-2010 [191]

• Preparing for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), 2005

This is the record of the staff report introduced at the June 17, 2010 Parks and Environment Committee meeting. Technical Services manager Michael Schreiner mentioned that there are currently 120 city playgrounds that have accessible surfacing, i.e. not soft sand that blocks a wheelchair's progress. None of the councillors asked him about the other playgrounds, so that he did not mention that the city is still in the process of putting even deeper sand into other playgrounds.

There was a discussion of how much it would cost to make the playgrounds accessible, without any assurance of funding assistance from other levels of government. Once again, the subject of the high cost of the still-ongoing sand replacements -- $25,000 for an average-sized playground -- did not come up.

From the staff report:

In 2004, PF&R developed the Play Enhancement Program as a long-term city-wide playground replacement/ enhancement initiative. Playgrounds identified to be replaced first through the program were based on district priorities and need. Funds were made available starting with the 2005 council-approved PF&R Capital Budget to replace 12 playgrounds per year; 3 per each of the 4 districts. Since 2005, 12 playgrounds each year have been replaced with new and more challenging play structures and when possible have incorporated various accessibility features, including those noted above. [The city plans to spend $5.281 million on new playgrounds in 2010; a total of $12.6 million for playground renovation projects to 2019.]

Neeshama playground was mentioned, as involving a $700,000 donation [from the group "a bunch of guys"], topped up by other amounts from Section 37 funds and the City, for a total cost of $1.094 million. Councillor Walker mentioned that the city also paid a consultant [Planning partnerships] $200,000 for the public consultation part. He said that laid the pattern for how to introduce such projects in future.

The staff report calls for another round playground audits:

DEVELOPING A STRATEGIC ACCESSIBLE PLAYGROUND PLAN In order to develop an effective strategy, a playground accessibility audit will need to be completed by industry approved professionals to identify the baseline of the current inventory. An audit will identify playgrounds already accessible and those requiring modifications. Audit results will need to evaluate various factors including, but not limited to, park type, location, number of local residents, number of visitors from outside of immediate neighbourhood, local agencies, housing, consumer base, etc.

One of the problems of the very costly accessible playgrounds is their almost toal reliance on man-made materials. For example, this report calls for the use of sensory activities:

Examples of sensory stimulating activities might consist of the use of bright colours, and spinning, colourful gears, labyrinth and kaleidoscope panels, the use of different textures, music panels, drums, and other sound generating devices.


The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), 2005