Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay City Council approves new playground at Centennial Park

Thunder Bay City Council has approved a new playground at Centennial Park.

$700K project will feature natural materials, be complete by early fall

A mockup of a new playground at Centennial Park, from Monday's Thunder Bay City Council agenda. Council approved the $700,000 project at the meeting, and construction is expected to begin this summer. (City of Thunder Bay)

Thunder Bay City Council has approved a new playground at Centennial Park.

The $700,000 project, which council voted in favour of on Monday, will see a new playground with a "woodland adventure" theme constructed at Centennial Park this summer, said Werner Schwar, the city's supervisor of parks and open space planning.

"This will really be an interesting project," Schwar said. "We strove to make something different for Centennial Park."

Schwar said the park's previous playground was built decades ago, and its condition has deteriorated to the point that it had to be replaced.

"We did do some public engagement, both in the park, had events around town during the summer of 2019," Schwar said. "We really heard loud and clear from people that they wanted that sort of woodland adventure theme."

"They wanted sort of natural materials, wood materials, to be totally different from the standard kind of metal and plastic playground stuff that's in our neighborhood park."

Schwar said treated lumber and wood was the standard for playgrounds until the 1980s, when concern over the chemicals used in the pressure treating process, as well as slivers, led to a switch to plastic and metal.

Things are once again changing, however, with interest once again growing in natural materials for playgrounds, as well as structures that encourage exploratory play rather than prescribed play, Schwar said.

"That's what we'll be experimenting with on this," he said. "So it would be interesting to see how people react to that."

Schwar noted the wood that will be used in the new Centennial Park playground won't be treated and has natural preservation qualities.

The playground will include a zip line, swings, log climbers, a balancing course, hammocks, a climbing frame, play huts, and a sand play area, a report to council states.

He said construction is expected to begin in the summer, and the playground — which will be built by RJC Concrete and Construction Ltd. — should be open by early fall.

The full report can be read in the additional info section of the Monday, March 8 Thunder Bay City Council meeting agenda.