New park in Le Plateau a climber’s dream
Add this playground to your summer bucket list — because it’s a must-see.
There were a lot of smiles this weekend in the Plateau-Mont-Royal as groups of kids and local families were some of the first to swing, slide, and climb at the newly completed Parc des Compagnons-de-Saint-Laurent. After being closed for construction for almost a year, on Friday, July 8, elected officials from the borough joined members of the redesign team to view the new space and celebrate its rejuvenation.
Redevelopment of the park began in September 2021, after a series of online surveys and an information session with the park’s users where they voiced their needs and wishes on a variety of subjects including park habits, spatial planning, furniture, multigenerational activities, greening, and lighting.
Work progressed this spring, culminating in an all-new play space, the addition of a splash pad, new furnishings and pathways, modern lighting, rejuvenated landscaping with native plants and fruit trees, and an area for outdoor fitness training.
Wood is the star of the playground
The new play space veers from the traditional post/platform/slide structures and instead features products inspired by nature. Hefty logs criss-cross and are interspersed with climbing nets and ropes. With no set starting point or formal entrance and exit, the large “logjam” structure invites children to direct their own routes, and encourages innovative, creative, and challenging play.
“Wood’s natural aesthetic is attractive and blends seamlessly into any landscape setting,” said Laura Hilliard of Earthscape Play, the Ontario-based maker of the custom natural playground. “As playground designers, wood enables us to be much more creative in playscape design. The flexibility of wood allows us to create custom features, sculptures and carvings that bring meaning, history and context to a site.”
While Earthscape has emerged as one of the leaders in natural wood-based play equipment in Canada and the United States, Parc des Compagnons-de-Saint-Laurent is only the second site in Quebec to incorporate its designs. Techsport, the company’s new representative in the province has already built an Earthscape playground for Sépac’s Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville – located just a few kilometres south of Montreal.
Next up, is the completion of an immense wooden bird climber in parc de Turin in the borough of Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension.
New features, new challenges
“Children need some unprescribed play,” said Casey Cameron, vice-president at Techsport. “When they first get to an Earthscape park they usually stop and try to figure out where to start and how to play — It really develops their sense of creativity and adventure.” Cameron notes that children generally love the progressive challenges offered by the unconventional equipment. “They can start on the large diameter logs close to the ground, and once they are comfortable they can move to smaller diameter and higher logs. Every time they play on a logjam they can try a new route. They never get bored doing the same thing over and over.”
For the younger kids not quite ready for heights, there is a Junior Tower, an enchanting wood-house-meets-climber (or castle, fairy garden, or fire station…). Posts, hidey holes, ladders, handholds, and a double slide ensure plenty of action on all sides and levels. As with the tumble of logs, the timber used is sustainably sourced and carefully chosen based on its longevity and the ability to hold up to varying factors including the environment and use.
“In our plastic age, we believe children need more nature, not less, especially in dense urban areas. Hand sanded and carved wood timbers give a sense of personalization and care that is missing from mass-produced play pieces,” Hilliard said.
Other play opportunities in the park include a bank of baby and adult swings, and large boulders that are interspersed within the park’s wood chip surfacing.
And for fun in the water, the park now boasts a low-consumption splash pad with 15 ground jets that allow visitors to cool off during the summer.
For tweens, teens and adults, new Trekfit fitness obstacle challenge equipment will keep them healthy and active.
A nearby ping pong table (bring your own paddles and ball) will work hand-eye coordination, and if you simply want to chill under the huge trees there are plenty of benches and picnic tables.
This summer, the Ludothéque games container that’s located in the park will be open Wednesday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with free activities and events including storytimes, horticultural workshops, scientific demonstrations, board game activities, and theme days.
THINGS TO NOTE:
- The playground is on wood chips. It is partially fenced.
- There is minimal shade over the play area, but the rest of the park has great mature trees and there is shade on the steps overlooking the play area.
- The splash pad should turn on at 9 a.m. Press the sensor on the ground to turn on the timed water sequence.
- A drinking fountain is located near the north entrance to the park.
- There is no bathroom.
- While there are 10 swings. Some parents have requested that at least one be swapped out for an adaptive seat as there is currently no inclusive play opportunity or adapted equipment in the playground.
PARC DES COMPAGNONS-DE-SAINT-LAURENT
Address: 4375 Cartier St., Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, H2H 2N9
Parking: Street parking ($) is available on the surrounding streets.
Bathroom facility: There are no bathrooms.
All photos by Christine Latreille