Yorkton will soon have a wheelchair accessible play structure following a unanimous decision of Yorkton Council Monday.
“The City has been gradually replacing play structures in City parks over the last number of years with the play structure in Weinmaster Park the final one to be replaced,” explained Darcy McLeod, Director of Community Development Parks & Recreation with the City.
“In 2010, the Weinmaster Accessible Play Structure Committee was formed following a needs assessment completed by the City of Yorkton and the Sunrise Health Region. This volunteer committee has raised awareness of the need, and funding, to replace the old play structure in Weinmaster Park with a wheelchair accessible play structure.”
McLeod said having an accessible play structure will be good for the community.
“All children need to play as it is essential for their physical, social and emotional wellbeing.
An important aspect of playground design today is making sure all kids have access to play. Accessible play spaces are designed to encourage shared play among children of all physical abilities. In Yorkton parks, children with disabilities, often in wheelchairs, can only watch from the sidelines. Accessible play structures are designed with special features to let both the able-bodied and less able-bodied children play side-by-side and enjoy just being kids. A universally accessible playground is a play environment created to be wheelchair accessible throughout the entire structure and surrounding play area with more challenging paths of travel or activities along or beside the wheelchair accessible routes. Accessible play structures also allow parents and caregivers with physical disabilities to be nearby and play with their children. Replacing the existing structure with an accessible structure will provide able-bodied and less able-bodied kids an opportunity to play together, teach able-bodied kids about inclusion and remove barriers to participation,” he said.
In terms of funding the project, the City has been preparing for it, said McLeod.
“Over the last number of years Council has placed funding into a reserve account to replace the Weinmaster play structure with an accessible one. As part of the 2013 budget, Council approved the Weinmaster Park accessible play structure committing $250,000 towards this project. In addition the Weinmaster Accessible Play Structure Committee has successfully secured an additional $54,769.31 in fundraising for a total project amount of $304,769.31,” he said.
In early June, the City placed a Call for Proposals for play structure designs and received three submissions as a result. Administration met to review the submissions to ensure the basic guidelines were met and then the Committee reviewed the submissions to select the desired design, detailed material circulated to Council Monday.
“Park ‘N Play Design Company received the highest score from the review process and was also the less expensive option. This option will allow an approximately $12,000 that will be used as a contingency or to upgrade features if the contingency is not required,” said McLeod.