Park Lafontaine playground redesigned for all kids, including those with disabilities, autism
MONTREAL -- The family playground in Park Lafontaine will undergo a major transformation this fall so that everyone can finally join in to the fullest.
The playground will be fully fitted out for kids with reduced mobility and with a range of other needs. It will even have its colours muted for autistic children, who have a hard time with too much stimulation.
For decades, Montreal's children have "dreamed" at the legendary park, and the upgraded playground "will continue to make them dream again," said Plateau-Mont-Royal mayor Luc Rabouin.
The city and borough are working together to develop Park Lafontaine. Rabouin says the family playground in particular was showing its age and due for an upgrade.
"If you go closer you can see that's it's not [looking] new -- there are some holes," he says.
The kids' changes are the first phase in a three-part, five-year plan to upgrade the bigger, legendary park around it.
It's also "another step to keep families in Montreal," says city executive member Robert Beaudry.
Beaudry says the new playground will have an emphasis on mobility, including easily accessible play structures.
"It's going to be for kids with reduced mobility, so all the arrangements... will have universal accessibility," he says.
Some of those new features will be access ramps and a cedar-fibre floor that will allow wheelchairs to move the short distances amongst the play structures.
There will be nets that kids can grab hold of and pull themselves up by, allowing them to access slides and other areas of the playground. Some play structures will also be located on the ground, easily reached by all.
The colours will be calmer ones than the usual eye-catching play structure hues. Muted tones have been proven to be less detrimental for children with autism than vibrant ones.
"When you have flashy colours, that's a problem," Beaudry says.
The playground will never be completely out of commission. Construction will begin on its east side, and the current playground won't be removed until the new one is completed.
--With files from Matt Gilmour