Grand Opening of the new playground at Hillcrest Park Celebrated

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Jodi Wright with daughter Kaitlyn, 16 months, and friend Marlo Marasco, 14 months enjoy the new Oodle Swing at Hillcrest's new playground
Jodi Wright with daughter Kaitlyn, 16 months, and friend Marlo Marasco, 14 months enjoy the new Oodle Swing at Hillcrest's new playground
Jodi Wright with daughter Kaitlyn, 16 months, and friend Marlo Marasco, 14 months enjoy the new Oodle Swing at Hillcrest's new playground
Jodi Wright with daughter Kaitlyn, 16 months, and friend Marlo Marasco, 14 months enjoy the new Oodle Swing at Hillcrest’s new playground

THUNDER BAY – Kids of all ages and parents celebrated the Grand Opening of the new playground at Hillcrest Park today. Mayor Keith Hobbs along with the City of Thunder Bay Parks Division and the Friends of Hillcrest Park cut the ribbon, and officially opened the City’s first AODA-compliant (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) play structure.

The City sought input from resident at a series of public meetings on the new playgrounds earlier this year.

“The City is very proud to add this new accessible playground to one of Thunder Bay’s premiere parks,” said Mayor Keith Hobbs. “It provides healthy fun for all, combined with spectacular views. This unique playground will see more people actively using this area of the park – it’s an asset to this area of the City.”

The new playground is the City’s first play structure with a Fibar wood-fibre safety surface. The fibres of the natural surface will compact and intertwine as the park is used. It also features an accessible walkway linking the current path to the edge of the play unit. The perimeter of the play area is near flush to grade rather than raised one or two timbers allowing for easier wheelchair or mobility device access.

The new play area is located at the top of park in the main green space area closer to the Sunken Garden and features design elements that mimic natural climbing and play elements native to the area like rocks, logs and giant mushroom stepping-stones. It also features an Oodle Swing – a multi-person rocker that allows for views of the Sleeping Giant while playing.

The City Parks Division worked in consultation with the the Friends of Hillcrest Park getting feedback on design and location. As a result of that consultation, a Kids Garden in the centre of the play area (the location of an existing flowerbed) was included so that kids can plant things and incorporate items like stepping stones to give both ownership and an active learning experience. A hedge was also planted between the playground and the road/parking area as a result of that consultation.

“We really looked at placement and theme for this playground, and the citizen feedback we received; the result is an amazing, unique park unlike any other in the City,” said Werner Schwar, Coordinator Park Planning. “We look forward to seeing kids of all ages and families enjoying this new amenity at Hillcrest.”

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