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Playground designed for disabled users

Apr 13 2012

The Blanshard Community Centre and its refurbished playground provided the backdrop Thursday for a federal funding announcement aimed at improving accessibility for people with disabilities.

Ontario Conservative MP Dr. Kellie Leitch, parliamentary secretary to Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Diane Finley, said the centre's specially designed playground is an example of how the federal Enabling Accessibility Fund works. The Kings Road site was granted $50,636 from the fund in 2010 and the playground was installed soon after.

Kelly Greenwell, the centre's executive director, said much effort went into securing money for the project until the Enabling Accessibility Fund came through. "We tried a lot of different ways to get something like this here."

A key element of the accessible playground is a spongy, tile-like base that is easier to move on than the typical sand surface.

Leitch said the playground is one of more than 800 projects across the country already supported by the Enabling Accessibility Fund. Another 188 are in line for $6.2 million in funding.

The Downtown Blanshard Advisory Committee, which oversees the community centre, deserves applause for what it has been able to accomplish, Leitch said. She said the local group does great community-service work and has produced the type of project that the federal program seeks to support.

Greenwell said the playground gets plenty of use.

"We have a couple of hundred people through the building each day," he said.

Places like the Blanshard Community Centre, municipalities with a population of less than 250,000, colleges, universities and aboriginal governments are among those eligible for the Enabling Accessibility Fund.

"For millions of Canadians, accessibility is actually a very important issue and it can make a difference between getting a job or not, being independent or not, and, quite frankly, to be included in something or not," said Leitch.

jwbell@timescolonist.com