As one drives around the neighbourhoods of Valley East, and in particular, Ward 6, it becomes quickly apparent that most of our playgrounds are in need of attention. 

Old timers like myself will recall the time when playgrounds were actually like little “community centers” for neighbourhoods.

During the summer there were programs for the children. During the winter, the clubhouse was open every day, all day, and the rinks were well maintained. 

Those were the days when public funding for recreation programs was readily available. Not only did the municipal employees maintain the grounds, but the facilities and equipment was something that you could be proud of. 

Indeed, even staffing of the playgrounds was guaranteed.

Today, neighbourhood playground associations are struggling in an uphill battle to build any kind of community spirit. Admittedly, there is a problem finding volunteers willing to put in the hours to operate these facilities and programs. 

However, the question to be asked is, “Should residents be responsible for local playgrounds, or should this be something that you receive for your tax dollars?”  

I am of the opinion that a well-maintained, well-equipped, fully-staffed playground is a service that should be provided by the municipality for the local residents. An annual budget of $50,000 per playground would go a long way to providing each neighbourhood with an attractive, safe recreational facility that they can walk to with their children. Keeping the grass cut, the rink boards up, the basketball nets in good shape, and the clubhouse painted and clean would make the playground the "jewel" of the neighbourhood - not the eyesore or hangout.

City Councillors may be approving the spending of up to $250,000 to hire a consultant to prepare a feasibility study on the construction of a major convention center that may then cost millions of dollars of tax dollars to develop. 

While there is no question about the positive impact a major facility such as this can have on the entire Greater Sudbury Area, one can only imagine what our communities would be like if each playground in the area received a budget of $50,000 a year to cover the cost of staffing, equipment and maintenance. 

Imagine how it would look to outsiders to take a tour around the region and see vibrant, well-maintained, well-equipped playgrounds in every major subdivision. One can only imagine.

During this election period, it is expected that there will be a lot of discussion about the state of our recreation facilities. Instead of spending millions of dollars building one huge facility, many taxpayers would like to see the money spread around to the local playgrounds.

If I am elected to represent Ward 6 - Hanmer and Val Therese, I will be doing everything I can to make sure that our playgrounds get the funding necessary to turn them into "community centres". We have the money. We just have to establish the right priorities.

In the meantime, go to the following link and take a tour of the playground facilities as they now exist in Ward 6 - Hanmer & Val Therese. Just imagine what  $50,000 per year and full-time supervision could do to these neighbourhood centres:


    WARD 6

The following links will bring you to the playground facilities that are located in Ward 6 - Hanmer & Val Therese. 
bulletValley Acres Playground
bulletElmview Playground
bulletCentennial Park
bulletFarmdale Park
bulletSt. Joseph / Lions Park
bulletTheresa Park
bulletLaval Street Playground
bulletDominion Park Playground
bulletMederic Park
bulletHoward Armstrong Centre Park
St. Joseph/Valley East Lion's Skate Board Park Is Typical of Similar Unsupervised Facilities Sites In The City of Greater Sudbury
Valley East skate board enthusiasts have had use of a great facility at the St. Joseph's Park located just beside the Lion's Den in Hanmer. The skateboard park has been up for a number of years and each day you can find boarders of all ages visiting the site.

The City of Greater Sudbury has recently opened a $400,000 skateboard park in Minnor Lake which is creating a lot of controversy over safety of the children using the park.

One of the current issues that has surfaced since the opening of the Minnow Lake Park is the fact that most of the young boarders refuse to wear helmets and/or protective gear. The law requires all people younger than age 18 to wear helmets when riding a bike. However, skateboarders and inline skaters fall outside the law's jurisdiction, therefore there is no way of forcing people to wear helmets.

The City does not supervise the park, but signs advising that protective gear should be worn are posted. These signs do not seem to be having an impact. City officials have indicated that if helmets were made mandatory at the park, then the park would have to be supervised in order to enforce the rules. Right now, the only park that is supervised is in Capreol, which is indoors on the arena ice surface.

There is a serious issue here with respect to liability if a young person suffers a serious head injury. The City of Greater Sudbury has provided most of the funding for the park and it is apparently on City owned land. What is hard to understand is why City staff are satisfied that their obligations are being met by posting warning signs around the facility. A civil suit would be a hard charge to defend against in a court of law since the City is largely responsible for setting up a dangerous situation in the first place.

Warning signs do not appear to be posted at the park in Hanmer, or at least they do not appear to be in close proximity to the equipment.

One need only take a look at the painting and graffiti on the equipment at the Lion's Park in Hanmer to see another problem that comes with unsupervised parks. The new park in Minnow Lake is already being defaced with graffiti in addition to the site being laden with garbage and litter every day by the youth using the skateboard park. It appears as if the users of the skateboard parks are simply throwing their garbage and litter all over the property instead of using the garbage cans that have been installed for that purpose. 

The playground equipment near the skateboard park in Hanmer, shown in the photo to the right, has also been defaced with paint.  While it is extremely difficult to be everywhere at once, City staff must be vigilant when it comes to graffiti and vandalism. The only thing to do is repaint or clean up the site or it will just get worse. Graffiti always generates more graffiti. Litter always generates more litter.

The saying "kids will be kids" is not appropriate in this case. Kids do not have to destroy property, especially property that has been put in place for their use and enjoyment. To do so is simply self-destructive and may eventually result in the removal of the equipment, thus leaving them with nothing. It is hoped that the users of skateboard parks would "police themselves" and make sure that others do not deface the property.

Some say education is the answer and are attempting to put together a program designed to meet with young people to explain the benefits of wearing protective gear when skateboarding and the responsibility that children must assume in order to properly use these facilities. Talking to kids is commendable, however, it is suggested that the only sure way to cut down on vandalism and terrorism of young children is with better supervision of the parks. It may mean having to hire a caretaker or supervisor to work two different shifts. If that is the only solution, then so be it. One thing is for sure. People in Valley East and hopefully the rest of Sudbury are going to begin to put pressure on Council to either close these eyesores, or provide proper protection. Closing the facilities is not an option that will be acceptable to local residents. Therefore, the solution seems pretty obvious.





Phone: (705) 969-7215