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Toronto councillor calls for more 'adventure playgrounds'

Coun. Joe Cressy wants city to look at opportunities to increase unstructured and spontaneous play sites for kids

Earth Day Canada has been staging pop-up adventure playgrounds in different communities across Toronto, allowing kids to get in touch with nature while they play.

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Earth Day Canada has been staging pop-up adventure playgrounds in different communities across Toronto, allowing kids to get in touch with nature while they play.

Coun. Joe Cressy wants to bring some nature back to Toronto’s playgrounds.

“Whether it’s with wood, sand, dirt or water, we need a higher level of creativity in our play spaces,” the Ward 20 councillor said, noting that Toronto’s increasingly urban landscape means children have less access to places where they can get their hands dirty.

Cressy will be bringing a motion to the parks and environment committee next week, calling for more unstructured playgrounds to be built in Toronto.

“I am a big kid myself, and I want more adventure playgrounds,” said Cressy, who just so happens to be the youngest member of city council.

The lack of outdoor unstructured spaces for kids in Toronto is what prompted Earth Day Canada to launch their Pop-up Adventure Playground program.

The volunteer program brings material like cable spools, pots, pans, shovels, wheels, ropes and chalks to green spaces in the city and lets children play with them freely.

“Adventure play is what children do when nobody is telling them what to do,” said Earth Day Canada president Deborah Doncaster.

“Kids are not roaming around anymore. So let’s build more adventure playgrounds for them to have fun that isn’t TV or Playstation.”

Doncaster said free and unstructured play can help children develop social bonds and problem-solving skills. Whether they’re building something to climb up – and jump off – or crafting a house out of dirt, she said kids relish the opportunity to push their imagination and creativity to the limit.

In the past, Cressy said safety concerns from parents have kiboshed adventure playgrounds in the city, but he feels those worries are unfounded.

“If kids fall, they will get back up. If they get dirty, you can clean them after,” he said.

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