Hespeler Park to See More Enhancements

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1 Hespeler Park To See More Enhancements Pic
Bhavana Bonde and an associate from Architecture 49. Brenda Sawatzky

As per their promise to work on improving tourism to Niverville and provide more activities for young families, town council recently hired design group Architecture 49 to create concept plans that will enhance play areas around the splash pad in Hespeler Park. 

On March 22, council invited the public to an open house at the Niverville Arena where full-colour conceptual designs were on display. Architecture 49 designers were there to answer questions and provide surveys to residents which will aid the company in focusing on what’s important to the community.

“We have been designing playgrounds for more than ten years,” says Bhavana Bonde of Architecture 49. “We have designed playgrounds for city schools, remote northern schools, and daycares. We have experience in designing natural play areas, splash pads, and conventional playgrounds with play equipment.” 

Bonde says the grounds surrounding the splash pad offer an excellent opportunity for expanding the existing play area. The plans, she says, can provide options for passive play, such as grass berms, shrubs, and trees. Also, for more active play, they could develop a uniquely designed play area that would reflect Niverville’s rich history.

“We researched what is unique about Niverville,” Bonde says. “The park was named after William Hespeler, who built the first grain elevator in Manitoba. It was from this elevator that the first western Canadian barley was shipped to overseas markets. Niverville’s history is closely tied to grain. Some of the historic buildings which gave the town identity are no longer there. We thought the playground will be a good place to share these stories and historical information with children and visitors. Inspired by this, we came up with two themes: historic village and country living.”

The company provided three options for a large main climbing structure: an old red barn, an old-fashioned grain elevator, and historic buildings that would resemble characteristics of buildings from days gone by, like Dyck’s Hatchery or an old schoolhouse.

A secondary play structure on the site could also be created in the shape of an old farm tractor or an interactive mini-Main Street with shops allowing inside and outside play. Additional play items would be scattered around the area and could include DigiRiders and water and sand tables. 

Surfacing this area is also a choice the community will need to make. While sand is one option, Bonde doesn’t recommend it. This surface is not mobility-friendly. 

“The CSA guidelines for the playgrounds require a safety surface to protect children,” Bonde says. “The poured-in-place rubber or engineered wood fibre are the preferred options for accessibility. The cost of wood fibre is one-quarter of the cost of rubber surface. Using an economical safety surface such as wood fibre can mean more play equipment or features in a given budget, ultimately better play value for the money spent.”

The cost difference between the two surfaces is approximately $90,000. The estimated cost of the entire play area including structures, play items, wood fibre surfacing, and structure installation comes to about $209,000. Site development could incur an additional $96,000, depending on the variety of options council might favour.

Conceptual designs, cost breakdowns, and surveys are currently available on the town’s website.

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