Ponoka County backs Bluffton playground

By Charles Tweed / Black Press

Children in Bluffton have good reason to smile.

Ponoka County council approved funding to build a playground that will serve the area.

The park will have state of the art equipment and be built with functionality in mind. Irene Kurta-Lovell presented to council at its Feb. 23 meeting and admitted times have changed since the last park was built in Bluffton in 1956.

“We have learned about regulations regarding playgrounds, companies that produce playground equipment, grants that require accessibility, equipment and services that are wheelchair accessible, equipment that is suitable for all ages,” said Kurta-Lovell, taking a breather before starting up again. “The need for seniors to remain active as a health issue, the importance of modern infrastructure to maintain a viable and vibrant community and much more.”

The playground will offer children a place to slide, climb and swing, but be built with the community in mind. Town residents will have access to top-of-the-line exercise equipment — to sneak a workout in while watching the kids play or to simply stay active.

The park will cost in excess of $150,000 — times really have changed.

The county will supply $40,000 in cash for the play structure and an additional $10,000 in site preparation.

A big part of the price tag is site surfacing. Regulations specific to playground structures outline certain materials are allowed in the confined play area.

A softline pour-in-place safety surface system would have cost over $150,000 alone. Rubber tile surfacing cost estimates came in just less than $80,000. While engineered wood fibre costs about $14,000 and will ultimately be what lines the park.

The next step for the project is getting a grant from the Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP) that will match up to 50 per cent of donations raised by the playground committee.

Times may have changed but at least it’s safe to say some things remain the same.

“The biggest complaint, when the equipment was removed, was that the blue blender was taken out. It was there for 55 years and several generations of kids played on it and they loved it. So we pressed for a similar piece of equipment,” said Kurta-Lovell.

There’s no replacing the blue blender but the sky-runner is the next best thing and should keep Bluffton kids smiling well in to the future.