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New natural playground first of its kind for Sackville

A sand kitchen and shelter are pieces included in the new natural playground.
A sand kitchen and shelter are pieces included in the new natural playground. - Katie Tower

Town was successful in finding grant funding for pricey project

SACKVILLE, N.B. —

Lillas Fawcett Park is now home to the community’s first-ever natural playground.

Featuring a creatively-inspired design for children of all ages, the new playground includes fun pieces such as a sand kitchen, a log/net scramble, climbing wall, a mini mine shaft and a triple-bay swing with a bird nest swing.

“It’s definitely going to be an upgrade from what was there before,” said Matt Pryde, manager of recreation programs and special events for the town. “It’s pretty neat stuff.”

The new natural playground features a climbing wall, slides and a mini mine shaft, all built into the natural landscape at Lillas Fawcett Park.
The new natural playground features a climbing wall, slides and a mini mine shaft, all built into the natural landscape at Lillas Fawcett Park.

Using mainly natural products such as wood and sand, the new playground has been a work in progress for the past several months by Nova Scotia firm Cobequid Trail Consulting Ltd. and the town’s parks crew.

Pryde said the final touches are being added and the playground is anticipated to be open to the public in time for the official opening this week.

“There’s going to be some finishing touches to fix up the walkways and get all the sod down,” said Pryde.

Pryde explained there are numerous benefits to having a natural playground – not only does it have obvious environmental impacts but it can also contribute positively to children’s physical and mental health.

“The idea of having a playground that is primarily wood, sand, wood chips, and natural products built right into hills . . . instead of playing on rubber, plastic and metal, they’re getting their hands dirty, their hands are in the sand, they’re running up and down the grassy hills, they’re feeling the grass on their bare feet. There are a lot of mental and physical health benefits to that.”

Simply put, the new playground will be a great addition to the community, he said.

“It’s unique to the area so I think it’s going to be a great draw for tourists as well. A lot of people are excited about it.”

Although the new accessible playground comes with a pretty hefty pricetag, at an estimated $115,000, Pryde said the town has been successful in obtaining several grants to help pay for a significant chunk of the project. The funding includes a $38,400 grant from the federal government’s Enabling Accessibility Fund, a $22,500 grant from New Brunswick’s Regional Development Corporation, $8,000 from TD Bank and $7,000 from the Sackville Rotary Club.

The town had allotted $7,000 in its capital budget for playground replacement in 2018 and $15,000 in 2019. Pryde said the town also provided about $20,000 worth of in-kind contributions to help install the new equipment.

The town will celebrate with an “official grand opening ” of the playground on July 4 starting at 1 p.m.

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