At its regular meeting March 26, Yorkton Council was presented with one of those requests they can’t help but ultimately say yes too.
The Yorkton Wheelchair Accessible Playground Committee (YWAPC) appeared before the meeting to update its plans to assist with the replacement of the play structure located in Weinmaster Park.
“Our goal is for Yorkton to have a play structure that encourages exercise, socialization and inclusion for children of all abilities, as well as a place for community families to enjoy. We feel this is an important part of enriching Yorkton’s reputation as a city that actively creates a place where all people feel welcome and the diverse needs and aspirations of everyone are respected equally,” said committee chair Susan Quiring at the meeting.
The Committee was seeking the City’s support to help it access additional funds to go toward the playground project. They were in the process of applying for a Community Vitality Program grant through the Communities Initiatives Fund (CIF) for the Weinmaster Park accessible play structure. The CIF grant could potentially contribute up to $50,000 but required matching funds in order to qualify for the grant,” said Quiring.
Council unanimously supported the recommendation to support the Committee’s efforts to access the Community Vitality Program.
It would be a decision you would have to think was among the easiest Council ever made.
Anytime the City can invest a dollar and get a matching one from somewhere else, it’s a good thing - witness the planned Brodie Avenue skateboard park.
In the case of playground equipment accessible by the disabled, it is something Yorkton requires to meet a definite need.
To the City’s credit it has been planning this replacement for a number of years as the play structure is the last one to be replaced as part of the play structure replacement program began in 2006. The Weinmaster Park play structure has not been replaced in order to raise adequate funds to replace it with an accessible play structure, explained Darcy McLeod, Director of Community Development, Parks & Recreation.
The City has been placing funding in reserves to be used toward this project. To date $100,000 has been placed in reserves for the project, money which will be utilized to fund the Committee’s request for matching funds.
If successful the Committee’s efforts would give the City $150,000 to work with when the grant is added to the existing reserve.
McLeod told Council the cost of accessible play structure and appropriate ground fall protection is expensive, starting at an estimated $250,000. That may seem like a lot of money, and it is, but when one factors in the specialized equipment and fall protection, one has a better understanding of the cost.
And it is still money well-spent.
One way to measure a community is by how it includes all members of that community. Allowing a child in a wheelchair to go to a park and play on the equipment just like other children is an obvious way of building our community in a most positive way.
The YWAPC and the City need to be applauded for their efforts and hopefully when approached to help finalize funding local organizations and businesses find a way to support the playground upgrade.