Kitchener-Waterloo

Natural playgrounds proposed for two Kitchener parks

Two Kitchener parks - Gzowski and Kingsdale - will be getting new play areas with more natural elements to help children get active and use their imaginations.

'We want to get kids outside,' Evergreen official says

Children play on logs set up in an Ajax playground by Evergreen. (M. MacKenzie/Evergreen)

A national not-for-profit organization wants to get public input on developing natural playgrounds at two Kitchener parks.

Evergreen is partnering with the City of Kitchener to make changes to Gzowski and Kingsdale parks.

Evergreen focuses on simple, natural elements to help children get active and use their imagination, Cam Collyer, Evergreen's executive director of programs, told CBC News.

"The goal of this project has a lot to do with children's health and well being. We want to get kids outside," he said.

"We're in an age of indoor childhood increasingly and lots of concerns of screen time and parents' concerns about safety. So this is a lot about creating a safe space for our kids with really engaging play opportunities in nature."

The project, dubbed Neighbourhood Nature Play, is being supported by the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation.
Evergreen created this natural playground at a Waterloo daycare. (D. Wendland/Evergreen)

'Local is important'

Josh Shea, the natural areas coordinator for Kitchener, said the opportunity to work with Evergreen and the foundation works well with the city's plan for neighbourhoods.

"This initiative aligns seamlessly with the City's neighbourhood strategy and our emerging strategy around place-making," he said in a statement.

Collyer said they hear from a lot of people that they want a great park space near their homes.

"Local is important, so you want to have opportunities for them right nearby sort of right down the street, right outside the door where kids can be active and meet other kids," he said.

They will help "build those things that are so important for their well being in the long run, like resilience and some of their independence as well as their creativity and of course their overall health."

There are two public meetings about the project. Residents are asked to RSVP by emailing waterloo.region@evergreen.ca.

The Gzowski Park community meeting will be held at the Victoria Hills Community Centre, 10 Chopin Dr., on April 3 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The Kingsdale Park community meeting will take place at the Kingsdale Community Centre, 72 Wilson Ave., on April 4 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

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