Pointe-Claire park wows with inclusivity

The Tony-Proudfoot park offers children with diverse abilities the opportunity to play alongside one another

Pointe-Claire park

What happens when kids get to run, wheel, climb, and crawl around a brand-new playground? Lots of smiles, laughter, and great memories.  A new park in Pointe-Claire was this summer’s go-to playground, with locals and off-island visitors delighting in its colourful and inclusive design.

Designed for all ages and abilities, Tony-Proudfoot Park inspires kids’ imaginations. In the multi-functional park, everyone is welcome and can interact and play together. It offers children with diverse abilities the opportunity to play alongside one another, has a wide range of learning and developmental opportunities, and is a safe space to enjoy the benefits of active play.

Most importantly, it’s fun!

Beaconsfield resident Tania Faustino da Costa and her two children, 5-year-old Elliot and 3-year-old Ethan, have visited the park multiple times since it opened and are thrilled with the new space.

Ethan was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and often has nothing to play with at traditional parks (sometimes he isn’t even able to access them), but the inclusive design and products at Tony-Proudfoot allow Ethan to engage with his brother and friends, and experience a huge array of sensory stimulation in an outdoor environment.

“We are going to Tony-Proudfoot Park often these days,”  Faustino da Costa said. “The double swing is the kids’ favourite. Ethan loves it. We use a portable chair that we attach to it to give him some extra trunk support. He also loves the sensory panel with the triple sand hourglass, and can play with it for a long time,” she added.

Pointe-Claire park is designed to support kids’ different abilities and skills

Donna Cabel from Pierrefonds has been to the park three times since it opened, and appreciates that the park is fully fenced and gated. “My younger son has ASD and he loves to run wild and free. I feel it’s important for him to be able to do that without me chasing/redirecting him from danger all the time,” she said.

“At this park I can let him run and squeal and get chased by his brother to his heart’s content. He is just learning how to point and manipulate things, so all the sensory panels and their games are a great way for him to practice.”

Besides the fencing surrounding the park, other comfort and safety features include:

  • Soft synthetic surfacing that’s compatible with wheeled mobility devices or other mobility aids.
  • Strong contrasting colours for those with vision difficulties.
  • A separate fenced area for children aged 2-5 that still enables parents to watch the “big kid”
  • Multiple access routes into and out of the play structures.
  • Wide stairs with a transfer station and handrails.
  • Space on the double slide for a caregiver to sit beside a child.
  • A large shade structure over accessible picnic tables.
  • Accessible parking spaces directly beside the park.
  • A wheelchair-accessible portable toilet. (A permanent structure and drinking fountain is in future plans.)

The design considers a wide range of abilities

To create the best park possible, Pointe-Claire created a planning committee with input from its accessibility committee, and engineering and urban planning departments who looked at all the varieties of products on the market, and designed it for the greatest inclusion.

“The big picture for the city of Pointe-Claire is that we would love to make as much of the city as possible accessible and inclusive,”  Mayor John Belvedere said. “This was an opportunity where we could design a brand new park from scratch. We wanted a state-of-the-art park with the latest inclusive games and products, and this is a park that everybody can use. That’s what’s so exciting about it.”

Some of the park’s features include the PlayMotion module for kids 18 months to 5 years old, with a race track for small cars that circles around the top. With more than 16 different activities, little ones will delight in the bells, drums, shape sorter, mini slide, and ladders.

The nearby Cozy Dome allows kids to climb up and over, or have a break from all the stimulation with some quiet time underneath.

Steps away is the large play structure for kids 5 – 12, which has double-wide ramps that provide easy and simultaneous access for several children at the same time. Its sensory panels can be enjoyed by users with various forms of vision loss, hearing loss, mobility limitations, and sensory disabilities.

Make sure to try out the roller slide. Unlike a plastic slide, it creates zero static on the way down, which makes it safe for those with cochlear implants — and gives both a tactile and exciting sliding experience. With room for two wheelchairs and multiple friends or family, the large glider will also have everyone rocking and rolling.

“It’s a spectacular park with some really neat stuff. The atmosphere, the colours, just the feeling you get when you’re there, there’s something that’s really welcoming about the whole area,” said Belvedere, proudly. “Inclusive design is the way to go in the future, not only in Pointe-Claire, but in every municipality. When you build a community you build it for everyone, so that everyone can benefit from it.”

Named in honour of a local hero

Named in honour of Tony Proudfoot, who passed away in 2010 at age 61 after a battle with ALS, the name choice was an overwhelming favourite in a contest among Pointe-Claire residents. He was a longtime Pointe-Claire resident, a John Rennie High School graduate, and a CFL player with the Montreal Alouettes and BC Lions. A commemorative plaque in the park pays tribute to  Proudfoot and his accomplishments and community service.

The park is located at the intersections of Gendron and Des Frênes in the new Quartier Greenwich development.