A new playground has opened in Donwood’s Clintonia Park thanks to government funding and a collaborative community effort to revitalize the green space.
A brand new swing set, slide and climbing structure has been installed at the park, replacing a worn-down playground that was removed from the site in 2019.
"The equipment that was there was so antiquated that it didn’t meet today’s safety standards, " said Douro Ward Coun. Heather Watson, who leads the Donwood Parks Committee alongside four community volunteers.
After the aging playground was torn down, there weren’t any solid plans to replace it. That’s when Watson and her "small but mighty" team of volunteers took action.
The committee conducted a survey to gauge what kind of playground residents wanted at the Clintonia Park site, located on Gifford Drive in Douro-Dummer Township, just east of the city.
"Overwhelmingly, people really just wanted to replace the equipment that was already there, " Watson said.
To help cover the costs associated with purchasing and installing the new playground, the Donwood Parks Committee applied for a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) and, in 2019, the township received a $76,900 capital grant from the government agency.
Before construction on the new playground could begin, drainage issues at the site had to be addressed first. The park is located along a floodplain, so the township paid to have the area graded and remediated to meet standards set by the Otonabee Region Conservation Authority to mitigate any potential flood risks.
"All the grading and site planning was all done last fall, right up to November and December, then in May of this year we got in there and put in the equipment, " said Watson, who received help from Mike Mood, the township’s assistant to the manager of recreation facilities.
Along with covering new equipment costs, OTF’s grant money went toward signage and landscaping - the committee added wood chips around the base of the playground and installed a park bench in the area.
The committee hopes to add more features to the recently rejuvenated park. "There’s still a fundraising effort underway to put some finishing touches on it, " Watson said.
The Donwood Parks Committee also aims to bring in picnic tables and a new sun shelter.
Watson and volunteers aren’t stopping there.
With the help of local businesses, they’re currently working to breathe new life into two other outdoor spaces in Donwood: Daleview Park and Maryvale Park.
The township credited OTF in a news release with helping the community realize its goal.
"Having grown up in the community, I am happy that we were able to bring the neighbourhood together to make this space a fun space for everyone for generations to come, " stated Angela Bullock, a volunteer committee member, in the news release.
Watson said it’s "heartwarming" to see Clintonia Park’s new playground become a reality.
"It does feel great to see the community come together and be part of the project and see it through to fruition, " Watson said.
"It’s great to be able to put in safe and fun equipment." With many residents emerging from isolation due to the pandemic, Watson said the playground’s opening is even more special.
"We as a society are certainly appreciating the outdoors more than ever. For the health and well-being of people, not just children, to be able to go outdoors, feel safe and have a place to go - it’s a tremendous asset now more than ever, " she said. "I know the community appreciates having the park fully revitalized."
To recognize the contributions made by OTF, volunteers, staff and Douro-Dummer Township, Watson said she hopes to hold an official ribbon-cutting ceremony at Clintonia Park in the near future.
Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.
Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner