Kenora City Council will be revisiting the safety concerns at Garrow Park tomorrow. Last week, Shauna DeGagne made a deputation to city council on behalf of concerned families, saying that the new engineered wood fibres used as a ground cover in the playground are dangerous to youth – causing splinters and infections.

“There’s been complaints about the wood chips. This isn’t something new. These things are out there on other playgrounds, they’re acceptable and considered accessible. When I walked on them, I didn’t have any problems at all, but it is unacceptable,” said Mayor Dave Canfield. DeGagne asked Canfield to walk barefoot across the wood chips at the last council meeting, as part of her deputation.

“It’s caught us in an awkward situation, we’ve invested a lot of money in these wood chips. Bringing something else in would also cost a lot of money – to clean the chips out and bring in the second material. We’re talking about an amendment to the 2018 budget. It’s a tough one. Staff brought in the right product, but people don’t like it. So we’ll have to make a decision,” Canfield added.

A report from the city’s Parks and Facilities Division says that the wood fibre is specifically engineered for playgrounds, and is free from any hazardous elements. The fibres cost $2.15 per square foot, for a total of just over $5,000.

The city’s Accessibility Advisory Committee is recommending that a rubberized surface be put in place, instead of the wood fibres. Council noted that replacing the fibres with sand could be a temporary solution, although, Canfield says that sand is not considered to be an accessible material – as it can be a pain for those with mobility issues.

“Sand is cheap, but it’s got to be a special sand. However, then the park wouldn’t be considered accessible. We got funding for the park to be accessible. We don’t think that we can just take the wood chips out and replace them with sand. It’s something that we’re looking into,” Canfield added.

Daniela Tsentouros, who supported the delegation, echoed that the playground was built with funds from a grant that was to ensure an accessible playground was built; but concerned families say that the wood chips are not accessible either. By technical definition they are, but in practice, concerned families say that they can also cause problems for those with mobility issues.

Kenora City Council will be meeting tomorrow at 12 p.m. at City Hall.

For more information:
Safety concerns at Garrow Park

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