Kenora City Council has voted to replace the reportedly-dangerous wood chips at Garrow Park with artificial turf, after concerns from parents and families came forward. The cost to replace the wood fibres is estimated to be as high of $75,000.
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.
Council says that the wood fibres will remain in place for the time being, until the contract to replace the ground cover has been awarded and the project is moving forward.
The city says that they are unsure if the project can be completed this year, based on the requirements of the City procurement policy. The city will also be looking into posting signage to warn the public of the concerns with the wood fibres.
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.
“It caught us in an awkward situation. We invested a lot of money in these wood chips. Staff brought in the right product, but people don’t like it,” said Kenora Mayor Dave Canfield.
“It is on a beach, so it is a little different than some playgrounds that aren’t near beaches. So you’re getting wood chips blowing around in the sand. Obviously people had some complaints, so we made the decision.”
Council noted that replacing the fibres with sand was discussed as a temporary solution, although, sand is not considered to be an accessible material – as it can be a pain for those with mobility issues. The cost of the sand was estimated to be $15,000.
The issue, is that the Garrow Park playground was built with funds from a grant that was to ensure an accessible playground was built. So replacing the wood chips with sand would have been counter-intuitive. Concerned families added that the wood chips are not accessible either. By technical definition they are, but in practice, they say that the fibres can also cause problems for those with mobility issues.