Red Deer County playgrounds will now be thoroughly inspected by an outside company every two years.
Playgrounds are already routinely inspected, however, the new policy specifically requires that a third-party-certified playground inspector be called in every two years to provide a detailed assessment.
As well, county staff will inspect monthly all playgrounds that are open year round. Seasonal playgrounds will be inspected only during the months they are open.
The county has 24 playground structures on 18 sites, said county agriculture services manager Cody McIntosh.
Under the new policy, half the playgrounds would get the outside inspection one year and the other half the next. Inspections cost about $500 each.
Not all on council felt such frequent inspections were needed.
Coun. Philip Massier said that since the county staff qualified to check playground safety will be regularly inspecting them, a detailed inspection every two years does not seem necessary.
“That period is too short,” said Massier.
Coun. Richard Lorenz agreed, pointing out that any playground safety or maintenance issues would be brought to the county’s attention by residents and would be promptly fixed. Even inspections every four years would be enough, he suggested.
Council heard that the City of Red Deer does the detailed inspection of its 150-plus playgrounds on a three-year schedule.
Massier proposed an amendment that inspections take place every three years after getting assurances from staff that it would not create any safety issues.
It was defeated, with Massier and Lorenz in favour, and the rest of council against.
“I won’t support the amendment because safety is paramount to this municipality,” said Coun. Christine Moore, who added that unexpected issues such as vandalism crop up.
The playground policy with two-year inspections passed 6-1 with Lorenz opposed.