June 30, 2019 6:17 pm
Updated: June 30, 2019 8:47 pm

Families take advantage of downtown Edmonton’s first playground

WATCH ABOVE: A new attraction in downtown Edmonton is attracting the attention of lots of families. The first-ever playground in the urban core is open at 105 Street and 99 Avenue. Julia Wong reports.

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The first playground in Edmonton’s downtown core is now open for families.

There are several parks in the downtown area but the space at 105 Street and 99 Avenue is the first to have playground infrastructure, such as swings and slides.

READ MORE: City pushes for expropriation to build large park in downtown Edmonton

Shannon Robinson, who has a 12-year-old daughter, said the new playground will make a difference.

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“I didn’t have any of that before. We’ve come here before in the grass and played in the gazebo but this is really nice,” she said as she looked around at the playground equipment.

Robinson said the playground could become a meeting spot for families in the area.

“In a small little community, there’s always community centres and stuff. People meet each other that way or even have neighbours with yards. But here, we don’t have yards so this is a nice place to meet,” she said.

The playground came to fruition after an Edmonton police officer saw the green space and thought it could better serve the community if it were a playground.

READ MORE: Edmonton’s first downtown park in 30 years officially opens

The Downtown Business Association, Edmonton Public School Board, developers and other partners came together to make the idea a reality; the grassroots initiative raised $150,000.

Construction started in the spring and the fences came down within the last week.

Ian O’Donnell, executive director of the Downtown Business Association, said the first-ever playground is critical for the urban core.

“Downtown is getting quite dense. We’re really focusing on doubling the population in the next decade or so. You can’t have density without amenity…You do really need to have those basic elements, like a playground,” he said.

“It’s a really good opportunity to build community and just provide a really safe, inviting place for kids… You don’t have to leave downtown once you have kids.”

O’Donnell said the timing was ripe to build a playground in the urban core.

“Downtown really has been undergoing a transformation over the last generation. Just like most cities we’ve seen in North America, and truly around the world, they’re seeing a rebirth of people wanting to live more centrally or have kids attend daycare more centrally or visit friends more centrally so you need to have those basic elements,” he said.

“You want to have an opportunity to let your kids run around and enjoy like they would in any other part of the city.”

Paul Goebel stopped by the park with his 19-month-old daughter Zoe on Sunday. Goebel lives downtown and often took his daughter to a park in the Oliver neighbourhood.

“[The new playground] is definitely going to be one of the closer parks,” he said.

“I like that this park is definitely set up to be younger, [more] kid-friendly, just to run around.”

Goebel said he has seen more families moving downtown, adding that there are several in his condo building.

“Since having a kid, we’ve been more and more interested in the development of new parks. Any development in terms of green space and parks is good news for us,” he said.

Daniel Arial also brought his six-year-old son to the new playground on Sunday; he said the playground is a good idea but said he wishes it were bigger.

“Look at all the space they could have used here,” he said, pointing to the grassy area around the playground infrastructure.

O’Donnell said the new playground is a start.

“It was a very grassroots organization with a bunch of people that just wanted to transform a small portion of a small park…We certainly know there’s more work to do but it is a great small start,” O’Donnell said.

The grand opening of the playground takes place in mid-July.

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