New Boyle Street Neighbourhood Playground
Grand opening scheduled for the spring of 2022.
Updated December 22, 2021: Post from the Boyle Street Community League’s Facebook page
Work on the Boyle Street Plaza playground is being stopped due to the snow and extreme cold temperature we had last week and being forecasted again for later this week. These conditions will cause a complete freezing of the ground and with that the ability to complete the final concrete pour for the trench drain that surrounds the playground area and completing the poured in place rubber surfacing has ended until spring.
The area will remain closed off with the existing construction fencing remaining in place until the project is completed in the spring. Additionally a second construction fence is being installed around the playground area itself as an additional deterrent to people entering that area.
The children of Boyle Street now have a wonderful new playground at the Boyle Street Plaza. “It is a great addition to the neighbourhood, one that was much needed,” says Kathryn Hutchison, project manager, City of Edmonton.
Hutchison oversaw a community engagement process that involved the Boyle Street Community League and the YMCA of Northern Alberta (which occupies a major portion of the Boyle Street Plaza building). A team of community representatives led by Joelle Reiniger worked with the City to choose a location and select a design. The construction contract was awarded to GrassChopper Landscaping, the equipment contractor was Playquest, and the playground equipment was supplied and installed by Questic Contracting.
Features of the playground include the traditional equipment for sliding, climbing, swinging, and bouncing, along with a rubber pour-in-place surface, good lighting, and seating for family members and caregivers.
A surprising number of children live in Boyle Street and downtown.
Reiniger met Nicole Morin when their children were playing together in front of Boyle Street Plaza. Morin lives in the YMCA Village (Melcor), just across from the site of the new playground. So when Reiniger mentioned the project, Morin’s eyes lit up. Did Morin, who is Indigenous, have some ideas? Yes she did. Thanks to Morin’s participation, the playground features signage depicting the seven sacred teachings: love, courage, respect, truth, humility, honesty, and wisdom. It was also Morin’s idea to have a tandem swing, which accommodates a child and adult swinging together.
“The team was involved in selecting the equipment,” Reiniger says. “We asked for a place that children will return to, day after day, and one that serves older as well as younger kids. There will be a barrier to protect users from 103 Avenue traffic, and clear sightlines. We think it provides a respite within the downtown environment.”
A grand opening is planned for the spring of 2022. This event will celebrate a community space that is significant for many reasons. First, it is a safe place in an inner city, urban environment. Also, it is a neutral public open space where parents and children can socialize and hold events. This is especially important in an area where many families live in apartments and do not have back yards. “A surprising number of children live in Boyle Street and downtown,” Reiniger says.
Perhaps the most significant fact about the project is this: it is the second new downtown playground in recent years. (The McKay Avenue School site was first.) “Something that had not happened for decades,” Reiniger says.
Anita Jenkins is a retired writer and editor who lives in Boyle Street.