Large inclusive playground opens in Montreal
Montreal’s newest inclusive playground in the Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension borough has opened to the public, marking another step towards barrier-free playgrounds being available across all parts of the city.
This park is huge
At 16,465 square-feet, the playground at Julie-Hamelin Park is the largest inclusive playground in the city, and is designed as an intergenerational space for people of all ages and abilities.
Dotted with interactive and carefully-designed equipment, those with physical, cognitive and sensory disabilities are stimulated and challenged at their own level. Play opportunities abound, with the large space ensuring that kids can play side-by-side — creating connections between family and friends.
Sabrina Gvl lives in the area and eagerly watched the playground’s construction over the past year. Mother to a toddler who was born extremely premature, she welcomes the addition to the neighbourhood and appreciates the inclusive play elements. “My daughter is a tiny 2.5 year-old, who was a late walker and who’s still wobbly at times,” she said. “She often struggles in the modules at typical parks because they seem to always be conceived for perfectly agile and able-bodied children. This park offers so many options for her to enjoy! She spends a lot of time in the small kids module where she can experiment without any fear. It warms our hearts to see her play with confidence like that.”
The variety of equipment from playground manufacturer, Landscape Structures, creates a recreational area with innovative structures:
- Poured-in-place rubber surfacing rather than sand or wood mulch, allowing for a barrier-free transition from pathways to play area and making the area usable for kids and adults with mobility or other assistive devices.
- The We-Saw: An updated version of a seesaw whose molded seats are designed for ease of use.
- A We-Go-Round: A merry-go-round designed so that children using mobility devices can wheel right in and spin with their friends.
- Double-wide ramps so that everyone can play together and mobility devices or wheelchairs can pass each other. No traffic jams here!
- Slides with adjacent ground-level transfer stations to ease moving from slide to wheelchair.
- Interactive panels on the elevated platforms and at ground level.
- Sensory panels for those with visual limitations or hearing differences.
- Musical instruments where children can express their creativity.
- A variety of swings including a tandem swing, baby and adult swings, and harnessed adaptive swings.
- A toddler area with play structures sized just for them.
More accessible amenities
Visitors can find multiple areas with picnic tables and benches, an accessible and self-cleaning restroom building, a small splash pad for those hot summer days, a drinking fountain, and a colourful basketball court. A parking lot is located directly beside the playground and there is also street parking. The playground is not fenced and there is limited shade over the structures so morning visits might be best.
Laurence Lavigne Lalonde, borough mayor for Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension, says every detail has been thought out to make it as accessible as possible. “Nothing has escaped the rigorous analysis of our teams and the result is frankly, very impressive,” she said. “And although accessibility guided most of the project, special attention was also paid to certain ecological aspects, such as water management. In addition to the presence of a rainwater retention basin, the toilet in the sanitary block is supplied with water from the splash pad, which is stored in a tank. The park is a great example of innovation, first in terms of accessibility, but also in terms of the environment.”
Jumpstart offers community support
The park is the second in Quebec to be built by Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities, which is bringing large-scale inclusive playgrounds to cities in each province and territory. More than 40 local Canadian Tire Dealers contributed to the project and Jumpstart worked with the City of Montreal to complete the play space.
Through Jumpstart’s initiatives such as Inclusive Playgrounds and Keeping Girls in Sport, as well as community and individual child grants, the national charity is dedicated to helping kids overcome financial and accessibility barriers to sport and recreation to provide inclusive play.
How to get there
Julie-Hamelin Park is located at 8402 2e Avenue, Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension. The park is beside the National Circus School and TOHU, and just a hop across the street from the entrance to the lovely Frédéric-Back Park.