St. Vital Park toboggan slide wins international awards for unique, accessible design

An accessible toboggan slide in St. Vital Park is so cool, it’s getting international praise for its design. 

The 'Manitoboggan' structure picked up two awards at competition in Germany

The Manitoboggan slide and shelter in St. Vital Park won two awards for its design from the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee. (Submitted/Jacqueline Young)

An accessible toboggan slide in St. Vital Park is so cool, it's getting international praise for its design. 

The slide, aptly named Manitoboggan, recently won not one, but two awards at a competition in Germany last week: an International Olympic Committee award for design excellence, and an International Paralympic Committee award for the same thing.

Designed by Public City Architecture for the City of Winnipeg, the structure includes two toboggan slides, one that is universally accessible, as well as an accessible ramp that acts as a forest walkway, an upper lookout level, and a picnic shelter below. 

The Winnipeg entry was up against much bigger projects with much bigger budgets, so to capture the awards is a huge accomplishment, said Liz Wreford, principal landscape architect with Public City Architecture. It beat out roughly 100 other projects to capture the awards given out at the competition held by the International Association of Sport and Leisure Facilities. 

"It's a big deal for Winnipeg and something that Winnipeg should be very proud of," she said. 

Toboggan slides themselves seem to be a regional anomaly, because of Winnipeg's flat topography, Wreford said.

The Manitoboggan structure features a treetop lookout, two toboggan slides, an accessibility ramp, and a four-season shelter. (Submitted/Jacqueline Young)

"Whenever we present it anywhere in Canada, people are just sort of blown away with this thing that exists, so it's really a unique piece of public infrastructure which is really great," she said. 

"Being in Germany people were like, 'But wait, hold on, what is this?'"

The structure was completed two years ago. It was designed to replace existing toboggan slides in a shelter that burned down, said Jason Bell, who manages parks projects for the City of Winnipeg.

What's really interesting about the structure is how truly accessible it is, he said. 

"Too often accessibility just means a wheelchair ramp to people, and where I think we were successful was looking at it from inclusivity. Anyone can use this," he said. 

Unfortunately for those wanting to try out the sweet slide, St. Vital Park is still closed to the public as city crews continue to clean up from the Thanksgiving weekend storm.