I loathe driving on the Metropolitan, but when a park is this good I’ll happily pack the kids (and husband) in the car for the 30-minute trip from our West Island home. It’s a great destination park worthy of the early morning drive.
New and inclusive park
Recently re-opened after an extensive renovation and investment of nearly $2-million dollars, Saint-Joseph Park in Rivière-des-Prairies is now home to a 1450-square-metre inclusive playground.
An inclusive play area is more than just universally accessible. It removes barriers and is a space that is suitable and engaging for children of all ages and abilities. Inclusive playgrounds provide opportunities for kids to play together and create a welcoming environment that addresses the needs of the entire community. Accessible parks also make it possible for parents, grandparents, and caregivers who use mobility devices to move about freely and play alongside their children.
L’Étoile de Pacho, a non-profit organization for parents of disabled children, was closely involved in the design stages.
“We are very proud to have been able to participate in the consultation and design work for the largest universally accessible park in Montreal,” said Executive Director Nathalie Richard. “The borough of Rivière-des-Prairies – Pointe-aux-Trembles was very open throughout the process regarding the recommendations made by our team, so that the park meets the needs of all children with disabilities, no matter what their handicap. We are eager to discover this park, which will undoubtedly become a must-see gathering place for families of children with disabilities.”
The revamped space features poured-in-place accessible surfacing that is easy and smooth to maneuver, ground-level sensory panels, and a central “mountain” that’s playable from all sides. Kids (and moms and dads!) can clamour up the mountain across the giant spheres, and zip back down the tall slides. A transfer system on the smaller-scale slide will help children access the slide ledge, and cruising down can help them develop trunk stability and sense of balance. Long rails on one of the hill’s steep surfaces add an interesting challenge and will have kids pausing to figure out just how to use them. Glide down, head back up, and do it all over again.
An enormous array of interactive sensory panels are arranged alongside a large outdoor musical instrument that’s perfect for harmonious duets. Nearby is a raised sand table set within a sandbox so that children can play together whether they’re playing with the scoop at the table or building a castle below.
We always love seeing products and designs that haven’t been used in surrounding playgrounds. At Saint-Joseph Park, two unique-to-Montreal play structures (cubes to climb and cubes to climb inside) offer some seriously cool play opportunities and tactile stimulation. My littlest cocooned himself in the largest of the two and buzzed with excited exclamations.
Two swing sets offer an array of different seats that help develop the vestibular system (balance) and proprioception (coordinated movements and body awareness). You’ll find baby seats, a tandem swing (so fun!), adult swings, and a couple of saucer swings. When we visited in early July there were still some empty spots so stay tuned for a few more pieces of swing equipment to arrive.
Spinners, gliders, and more
For those who love movement and spinning, there are intriguing options available. There is a large inclusive glider that is great for social play. It can hold kids and their friends, or even a whole family. A spinning seat will give those sought-after butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling, and a stand-up spinner offers great balancing opportunities. There is also an inclusive carousel that is flush with the ground, making it accessible for wheelchairs and mobility devices.
Sadly, we visited just a bit too soon because the fully accessible sanitary block that has an adult changing table and lift (a first in Montreal), was still undergoing some work, as was the lovely looking splash pad. Once the splash pad opens there will be even more play opportunities. With in-ground jets and bubblers and an awesome-looking interactive water table, you’ll be spending hours here making streams, sending stick boats down the “rapids”, and cooling off. After that, well, it’s back to the playground!
If you’re still looking for more to do, there is plenty of green space in the park and two more small splash pad areas near the gazebo and bleachers by Gouin Boulevard. The river across the street is also very pretty and it would be great to see an accessible path or dock offering better views.
- The splash pad is currently not functioning. According to the borough, they’re waiting for work from Hydro Quebec. Once the work is completed, the water will be on from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. For the main splash pad, touch the sensor on top of the post to start the water sequence. The water will turn off automatically.
- The small splash pads near Gouin Boulevard are already working and have small silver sensors on the ground to turn on the water.
- You can check the opening schedule for the sanitation building HERE or call 3-1-1 for information. Note that it was still closed when this story was published.
- Picnic tables and benches are located near the playground and the splash pad.
- A large parking lot with designated handicapped spaces is located just beside the playground and the sanitation building. You’ll also find drinking fountains where you can fill reusable water bottles.
- A park attendant is on-site from May 8 to September 24. Monday to Thursday from 1:20 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Friday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
- The playground is not fenced.
9909, 68e Avenue, Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles, H1C 1W3
All photos are by Christine Latreille.