The fundraising effort for the one-of-a-kind universally designed play park for Queens has netted nearly $600,000 and is expected to open next summer in Milton, near Queens Place Emera Centre.
The original goal of fundraising set at the beginning of the project nearly six years ago was $450,000 and was reached in mid-September. Queens Universally Designed Play Park (QUDPP) chair, Debbie J. Wamboldt, decided to keep the fundraising going and clearly stated that the project will be built based on the number of dollars raised. The fundraising effort was closed Oct. 29.
“It’s absolutely insane. I don’t have words for it. I really don’t,” commented Wamboldt about the tally.
Contributing to the final push were a $100,000 anonymous grant and additional contributions from government, as well as community efforts that saw everything from grants, garage sales, birthday party donations, fundraising walks and contributions from the Tim Hortons Smile Cookie campaign.
“When COVID-19 hit last year, we lost an opportunity with the Canadian Tire Jumpstart campaign and we really felt like we were dead in the water,” said Wamboldt. “It was just a real kick in the pants to see the community come forward and get us across the finish line, and not just get us across but shove us across. It’s just been amazing and I just can’t wait to see it built.”
The Region of Queens Municipality will issue the tenders for construction and materials for the play park, which Wamboldt hopes will be this month. It’s hoped that construction will begin in early spring 2022 and that the park will be open in the summer.
The play park will feature a fully accessible large play structure, swings, picnic tables and a splash pad. Autism N.S. is coordinating the selection of playground equipment and amenities and will provide ongoing advice to the municipality during the design and layout phase.
The municipality will see that the equipment is installed, and once the project is complete it will take over the operation and upkeep of the park, which will be located at 72 Old Cobb’s Barn Road near the walking trail entrance and beside the skateboard park at Queen’s Place Emera Centre.
It aims to include the seven points of Universal Design, used as a guide for projects such as this. Universal Design is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability.
Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin