MOOSE JAW – It was a family favourite in Moose Jaw’s Wakamow Valley for more than two decades, but on Tuesday, the red tube playground was destroyed by arsonists.
By the time emergency crews arrived at Kinsmen-Wellesley Park shortly after 5:00 a.m., it was already too late.
“It had to have been burning for quite a long time because it burnt off, completely, three platforms and one support structure for the playground,” said Margaret Moran with the Wakamow Valley Authority.
The play structure was built in the late 1980s by the Kinsmen Club and police say its destruction was intentional.
“It wasn’t an accident. It was definitely caused by malicious behaviour. In fact, the police believe there was an accelerant poured onto the structure to make it burn the way it did,” said Moran.
Nothing was salvageable from the wreckage.
“It was disheartening to hear the news that we had lost this playground,” said Moran. “Unfortunately we can’t repair it, or rebuild a wooden structure again, because new CSA standards don’t allow for wooden playground structures.”
“It’s sad to think that people don’t respect facilities to that extent that they want to destroy it. But it’s especially disheartening with it’s something for children. This is a place to play,” said Moran.
The blaze happened just as temperatures began to warm up and with only weeks left before school lets out for the summer.
“This fire couldn’t have happened at a more unfortunate time for us. Right now, for Wakamow Valley, we don’t have it in our budget to rebuild the playground,” Moran added.
Profits from the annual Festival of Flavours and Blues Night will go towards a new playground, and donations have already started rolling in.
“It was a nice little gem tucked away off the beaten path, if you will,” said Deputy Fire Chief Brian Wilson. “Certainly we’ve used it with my family and my kids, and hopefully we can get it rebuilt and have something for our kids to enjoy in the future.”