As of Oct. 21, the community of Sparwood has five improved playgrounds. The five improved playgrounds have been installed at Cypress Park, Central Park, Juniper Park, Lions Park and on the Leisure Centre grounds. The refurbishing and replacing is a part of the Council’s Corporate Strategic Plan to have an active, healthy and involved community.
Duane Lawrence, Director of Community and Facility Service, said the playgrounds and their structures were nearing the end of their life span and needed replacement.
“The District of Sparwood 2014 Council approved the replacement of all of Sparwood’s playgrounds. Essentially they were at the end of their life cycle and in 2015, we instigated a replacement project for all of our playgrounds and that was completed as of the end of October this year” said Lawrence in an interview with The Free Press.
Grant funding is not currently available for the refurbishment and replacement of existing playgrounds. The city of Sparwood budgeted for the upgrades and made cost effective decisions that eventually resulted in a lower cost than budgeted for.
“Replacement infrastructure is not eligible for grants at this time, [but] we budgeted for it,” explained Lawrence, adding that the final project was under budget costs at a total of $285,000.
Some additional cost savings also came from keeping existing playground equipment that is in good condition and would not be different from their replacements.
“We kept some components that were around, like the swing sets that we didn’t need to replace because they are perfectly fine and they’d be identical [to a new replacement], we kept those types of things. But, essentially, the main structures of all the playgrounds have been renewed.”
Playgrounds do not generally come from a box, or pre-built. Lawrence explained that everything was custom designed and built and that is a factor for the additional cost. Making the decision to upgrade and replace the playgrounds all at once was a move to get more tender applications from companies to have a larger variety of playgrounds styles and costs available for consideration for the council and community meetings.
“They are all custom, so custom designs and custom installs. The reason we did it all at once was to maximize our ability to get more play equipment and reduce our install costs. And by doing them all at once, rather than one at a time, when we went out for tender we got seven different proposals for the replacement program. Where if we were doing them one at a time we would get a lot less value out of it,” Lawrence said. “We did do a consultation process with the community over the summer. They voted on their favourite designs from all the different proponents that put in bids for doing the playgrounds. BDI and Blue Imp were the most successful and most popular designs out there.”
There will be some landscaping, which will be done in the spring once the ground thaws. Excluding the landscaping the project was completed in over a year. The deliberation, and meetings took the bulk of the projects timeline explained Lawrence.
The whole process took over a year, but the actual install was pretty quick, with the installations starting in September and finishing at the end of October.