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Some work for all play

Parents group helps restore Fort Simpson playground

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Aug 23/02) - What was once Elephant Park has received a major makeover, thanks in large part to a group of concerned parents.

The Fort Simpson Parks and Playground Society, comprising 14 moms and dads, was formed in May with the goal of creating more parks and recreational facilities for the community's children.

Through a government grant, donations and fundraising, the group collected approximately $14,000, said to society chairperson Janice McClelland.

A portion of that money, combined with $10,000 from the Village of Fort Simpson's budget, was used to purchase several new pieces of playground equipment from a Medicine Hat, Alta., company. The old, hazardous equipment had been taken down at Elephant Park, which is going to get a new name.

Bernice Swanson, senior administrative officer for the village, said assistance from private groups such as the Parks and Playground Society is needed in times of fiscal hardship.

"(The village budget) has been cut on block funding and we've got another proposed three years that we're going to be cut more and more," said Swanson.

"So if we want to have these type of recreation facilities, that's the only way we're going to get them."

The playground opened on Sunday, although there are still a few finishing touches and a swing set to come. Sibbeston cut the police tape from the equipment once the cement was dry.

It didn't take long before for the test runs on the slides and monkey bars were complete.

"It was so exciting ... holy, what a rush of kids," she said. "They flooded into the park and started playing." The wait wasn't easy for some youths.

"That's cool," young Curtis McTaggart said last Thursday afternoon peering at the new equipment from outside the playground fence.

"I like the bridge," friend Connor Gaule said.

"I like the teeter-totter," McTaggart replied.

"I can't wait till it opens," said Gaule.

The Parks and Playground Society is also looking into having a playground built in the Wild Rose Acres subdivision.

Swanson said the village is prepared to commit another $10,000 next year.

A skateboard park, location unknown at this time, is a long-term objective for the society.