Frustrated volunteers call on Edmonton to speed up playground construction
For two years, volunteers in a southwest Edmonton neighbourhood have been working to build a new playground.
Now there is fear the Brookside park, complete with a ropes course, bike bumps and recycled rubber surface, will not get built before the snow flies.
Priya Nelson, chair of the Brookside Playground Project, said the park was fully funded by October 2016, and shovels were supposed to break ground this spring.
Demolition of the old park, built in 1999, still hasn’t begun.
“We spent the last two years fundraising about $250,000,” Nelson said.
The city matches up to $250,000 in its Neighbourhood Park Development Program and secures the builders.
Late last winter, Nelson said the city changed part of the process, which translated into delays.
She wishes the city would have allowed fully-funded projects to go ahead with the old procurement rules.
“Our frustration lies in the fact that the city had changed the way that they approve park vendors,” Nelson said.
A playground in MacTaggart, next to Nellie Carlson School in the southwest, was also supposed to break ground last fall.
That timeline was pushed to the spring, but crews haven’t started there either.
Monte Weber, president of the Terwillegar Community League is confident children returning to the school in the fall will have a playground.
On Thursday, he said the city confirmed a completion date in October, but he will push for the work to be done the month before.
Martina Gardiner with Edmonton’s Open Space Infrastructure Delivery said both playground projects have not been delayed and should be completed by the end of the year.
“We are fairly confident that we will be able to meet these deadlines.”
“We’ve been very collaborative with the community,” Gardiner said, “having conversation with them about these adjustment to schedule milestones.”
Gardiner said changes to the program took longer than expected but project managers are working through them.
The Brookside Playground Project group is worried those adjustments could put the funding in jeopardy.
“Our grants are based on a spring 2017 build and we’re a little bit nervous that if this park doesn’t get completed this year that we will lose some of those grants.”
The city said schedule changes in the past had not affected other funding grants.
The tenders for both park projects are set to close soon and the city said shovels should be in the ground next month.
After volunteers put in more than 1,000 hours on the project last year, Nelson hopes the city will now push the plans ahead.
“We kind of now are in this stand-back mode of waiting for the city… It’s all in the city’s hands now.”
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