Kerry Wood natural playground construction starts soon

A natural playground and learning space project at Kerry Wood Nature Centre is about to get underway.

A natural playground and learning space project at Kerry Wood Nature Centre is about to get underway.

The project will actually include “recycling” local trees and boulders, Jim Robertson, executive director of the Waskasoo Environmental Education Society, said on Wednesday.

Construction of the NOVA Chemicals Imagination Grove, as it is to be called, will begin by the end of August and is expected to be completed by the end of September.

The project will cost close to $300,000. It is being funded by a large grant from NOVA Chemicals, as well as from a provincial government grant, donations from TD Friends of the Environment, Parkland Mall and other private donations.

Robertson said the nature playground will be directly north of the nature centre, on land that now has old Manitoba maples and spruce trees, planted when the centre was first built.

“We’re re-using disturbed land that is now nicely grown up into second growth.”

Some of the materials being used include large spruce trees that had to be harvested earlier this summer in the River Bend area where the north highway connector project is underway. And the city has put aside a number of boulders as well for the playground project.

Robertson said the company doing the project is possible the only one in Canada that specializes in nature playgrounds.

Bienenstock Playgrounds, from Ontario, will start work in the next two or three weeks, and is excited to do the work.

Robertson said that normally the company is having to bring nature into the playgrounds, as they usually build them between apartment buildings or near offices in urban areas.

The Kerry Wood Nature site is already natural.

Safety certified play structures made of logs and boulders, cargo nets and slack lines, a slide, a small running water and dirt playground area, and an outdoor classroom and log-seat amphitheatre comprise the project.

The Grove is intended to make a connection between the urban environment and natural world of Waskasoo Park’s Gaetz Lake Sanctuary.

There will be no cost to use the facility, which can be used by such groups as pre-school and early elementary students, families using the trails with young children, tourists with children and groups taking classes at the nature centre.

Details will be announced later for a grand opening sometime in September.

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