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Wood chips to replace rubber mulch full of jagged wires at Dawson City playground

A playground in downtown Dawson City, Yukon, will be closed for two weeks so crews can replace a rubber mulch surface that was ridden with pieces of wire.

Playground will be closed for two weeks while crews replace surface material

The playground at Minto park in Dawson City, Yukon, will get wood chips to replace the blue rubber mulch that contained bits of wire. (Chris MacIntyre/CBC Yukon)

A playground in downtown Dawson City, Yukon, will soon be new, improved, and — hopefully — less poky. 

The playground will be closed for two weeks, starting Thursday, so crews can replace a rubber mulch surface that was ridden with pieces of wire.

The mulch replaced hard-packed dirt that didn't offer much give when children fell on it. The rubber mulch was meant to be softer, but as soon as it was installed last year, parents started reporting their children were getting hurt by bits of wire.

"We were concerned, obviously, because you don't want to have wire in a playground," said Paul Robitaille, Dawson's parks and recreation manager. "It was ... almost more dangerous than it was before."

Robitaille said the rubber mulch also gave off a nasty "off-gas" odour in hot weather.

The mulch manufacturer initially sent staff up to Dawson. They went through the mulch, which is made from recycled tires, with a magnet in an effort to remove the wire.

But parents kept finding wire. Eventually, the manufacturer agreed to give the town a refund and even covered the cost of shipping the mulch back south.

Chips ahoy

So the mulch will be replaced with wood chips. Those aren't perfect either — Robitaille said the chips will needed be turned over with a rototiller regularly so they don't become "like a compost pile."

But the city already uses chips in its other playgrounds, so there are savings to be had by buying in bulk. And Robitaille said wood chips look better than the artificial bright blue of the rubber mulch.

All that's left is to make the switch. 

"Here's the juggling act that we're doing: The trucks that are bringing up the wood chips are taking away the rubber mulch," Robitaille said.

"So we need to remove the mulch and then unload the wood chips and then load the rubber mulch into the trucks, say sayonara to the mulch and then start loading the wood chips into the playground."

How playground users respond to the new wood chips remains to be seen, but Robitaille expects the reviews to be positive.

"I think that for a lot of people, they're just glad that we listened to them about their concerns."

With files from Chris MacIntyre

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