'One more piece of the puzzle': Fundraiser launched for Edmonton's first downtown playground
The initiative is spearheaded by an Edmonton officer who noticed a lack of playgrounds in her downtown patrols
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Acting Sgt. Nicole Davie says she joined the Edmonton Police Service to create positive change in her community – and what better way to do that than to help establish Edmonton’s first downtown playground?
Davie has spearheaded a campaign to build the first playground in downtown Edmonton, on the site of the historic McKay Avenue School, next to the Edmonton Public Schools Archives and Museum at 10425 99 Avenue.
Davie would frequently patrol the downtown area as a community liaison officer and noticed there were several parks in the area, but no actual playgrounds.
“I just noticed there was a lack of spaces for children and families to be in (downtown),” Davie said. “I saw a lot of children, because I believe there’s 11 daycare facilities in the downtown core, but not a single playground.
“So I saw this big green space and thought ‘This is the perfect spot.’”
A wide range of partners are holding a $175,000 fundraiser for the McKay Avenue School Playground, including the Edmonton Police Foundation, Edmonton Public Schools, the Downtown Edmonton Community League, as well as the 104 Street Committee. They’re halfway to their goal and hope to reach $175,000 by spring.
Real estate firm Maclab Enterprise and Manasc Isaac Architects have also pitched in to make the dream a reality.
Downtown Business Association Executive Director Ian O’Donnell said he’s excited to help bring another more family-friendly piece to Edmonton’s rapidly developing downtown.
“It goes back to making downtown more inclusive. With that, we want to make sure the infrastructure is there to support people from when they’re a young child through to later life,” he said.
“This is one more piece of the puzzle we’ve been missing to make downtown more attractive for families, visitors and tourists. It all compounds to have a more vibrant, interesting downtown,” he added.
Cindy Davis, manager of Edmonton Public’s Archives and Museum, is looking forward to having a new neighbour. She said the project is coming along nicely, with a saucer swing, slide and climbing apparatus planned. A rubber base for the playground will make it safe and fully accessible.
“There’s a hill to climb in and the slide goes down the hill, so that makes it more accessible for kids who might have some disabilities also, because it’s not a stair they have to climb,” she explained.
Manasc Isaac Architects have released a conceptual image of how the park will look, and it’s expected to blend in seamlessly with the rest of the park and the adjacent historic building.
“They’ve also included some blue in there mimicking the Saskatchewan River, so it brings it back to the heritage of the community being developed in this area right outside of Fort Edmonton Park,” Davis said.
Davie said the park is already well used by families, so she’s excited to help contribute to a more vibrant downtown Edmonton.
“If we can get that playground in place I really think it will be a highlight of my career.”