Members of Kent council including Mayor Sylvia Pranger (centre right), Coun. Susan Spaeti (centre left), Coun. Duane Post (centre back) and Coun. Stan Watchorn (far right) meet with representatives from Habitat Systems, Tire Stewardship BC and MP Jati Sidhu’s office to cut the ribbon for the Pioneer Park playground Thursday (June 20). (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

Pioneer Park playground opens for fun and play

The $160,000 playground is wheelchair accessible and funded partly through grants

Dozens of kids from Agassiz Christian School, Kent Elementary and the community gathered together to give Pioneer Park’s new playground a well-played welcome.

“Today’s event is a celebration of our community’s all-new, all-inclusive playground,” Kent mayor Sylvia Pranger said during the official opening Thursday (June 20). “This is a unique playground, and it demonstrates community accessibility, inclusion and environmental stewardship.”

Although initially quoted at $139,400, the Habitat Systems playground ended costing around $160,000. It was largely covered by just over $120,000 in grants, including funds from the federal government’s Enabling Accessibility Program and Tire Stewardship BC.

RELATED: New playground on the way for Pioneer Park

“Communities such as Agassiz and her neighbours, ones that are growing fast that focus on family and community involvement, know the importance of outdoor space and greenery,” Kevin Tatla, constituency assistant for MP Sidhu, said on behalf of the elected official.

“I congratulate my colleagues on both their foresight and their commitment to this beautiful space. May we all be able to enjoy it for years to come.”

The Tire Stewardship BC was responsible for the rubberized ground cover, which was made of 20,000 pounds of recycled tires, about 1,300 tires. The ground design included motifs from Kent’s farming and natural heritage, which also contributed to the play factors. Kids were hopping along the railway and jumping from mountaintop to mountaintop.

Many elements of the new playground are designed to be fully accessible, allowing kids in wheelchairs to use the equipment just as well as those without.

The main play set has a ramp that leads up to a number of musical instruments attached to the structure — drums and chimes — while the swing set makes it possible for mobility-challenged kids to be lifted into the high-backed swings. (Kent Elementary support staff brought their own wheelchair lift to move students from their wheelchairs into the swings.)

The playground also has a small ramp coming off of the concrete path, to allow wheelchair users to wheel themselves up onto the rubberized surface.

“We are very proud of Pioneer Park playground, and know that the community will enjoy its features for many years to come,” Pranger said.

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Kids play on Pioneer Park’s new playground during its grand opening on Thursday, June 20. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

Two students take a break from their wheelchairs to test out Pioneer Park’s new swing, which is designed to be used by people in wheelchairs, as well as able-bodied kids. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

The kids spent a lot of time spinning each other around on this OmniSpin Spinner during the grand opening of the Pioneer Park playground Thursday (June 20). (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

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