Countdown to Edmundston's natural playground

Countdown to Edmundston's natural playground
It was sweet victory for Edmundston, NB on April 13, 2012. The community of 16,000 inspired each other  to be more active, live healthier and take the title of CBC's Live Right Now Capital of Canada . Edmundston's creativity and community spirit successfully out-competed much larger cities and won the grand prize of a $100,000 natural playground.

Fast forward to the present. Shovels have broken ground and construction has begun!


Alchemy in Edmundston: transforming $100,000 into $300,000

Not a detail has been overlooked. What started out as a plan for a $100,000 park has become an ambitious and highly valuable $300,000 city attraction.
It became apparent to the park's volunteer committee that the scope of the project - everything from selecting a location to design, natural materials, construction, landscaping, and maintenance after the launch - needed greater support than the initial reward could cover.

That's when Elaine Albert, the woman who led Edmundston to victory, and transformed her own lifestyle and health habits, took aim to make the park the best it could be and coordinated more than 100 volunteers.

"It's been countless hours of behind-the-scenes work with government and businesses in the area, and we've also worked hard securing funding and services to get the park we envisioned," explains Albert who always championed the potential for this park to be larger than initially possible.

"Even tiny changes that were made to the plans meant coordinating meetings with businesses from out of town, city officials, land experts and a committee of ten people. That doesn't just happen by itself, or overnight!" 

Located on city property along its cycling path, the 12,300 square foot playground is also the first attraction at the entrance of New Brunswick and conveniently near a school. 

On Sept. 21, 2013, when the playground is unveiled, it will be a moment of pride for everyone in Edmundston, many of whom are intimately involved with its creation.

"We have landscapers, trucking services, materials such as rocks and greenery, a water feature, and everything is donated: time, staff and their expertise. It's a generous contribution to our community," says Albert.

The playground prize is thanks to a partnership between CBC, Canadian Wildlife Federation, Parks Canada and Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds. 

"We are proud to be involved in this collaborative partnership where we are transforming unused green space into a park that will connect the community of Edmundston to nature and our Canadian heritage,"" says Adam Bienenstock, CEO and founder of Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds.

In this natural playground, the slide is built into the side of a hill and there are bongos nestled in the trees for musical creativity.

All the rocks and natural features are sourced from the area. You can't get more local than that!

Parents may not get it, but the "wacky posts" emerging from the ground are a favourite feature that inspires creativity.

CBC's Live Right Now will track the progress of the playground's creation from shovel to ribbon-cutting. Check back for updates and highlights from the playground unveiling September 21.

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