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Canada's largest playground to be built at Mooney's Bay Park

The city has quietly signed a deal to build Canada’s largest playground at Mooney’s Bay Park to serve as a legacy project for the country’s 150th birthday in 2017.

More than a dozen trees at the park’s north end have already been chopped down and the Sue Holloway outdoor fitness park will soon be removed to make way for the $2-million, 4,600-square-metre playground, which is to be built in the shape of Canada.

The city is partnering with Toronto-based Sinking Ships Entertainment to build the new playground, which will be featured on the TVO children’s show, Giver. The program will feature children from across the country working with volunteers and a contractor to build the playground, which will have 13 unique play spaces — one for each province and territory. In its three previous seasons, the show has built more than 30 parks across Ontario, teaching kids “how to make a difference through helping out their community,” the TV network says.

The production company, which approached the city with the idea in January, is paying for the playground’s construction. The city has already convinced the National Capital Commission, which owns the land, to allow the project to proceed and will match the company’s $1-million investment.

The company was apparently in search of a waterside location and also considered Britannia Park. But it was Mooney’s Bay that stole producers’ hearts. “The Mooney’s Bay location was, in their words, ‘ideal’,” said Coun. Riley Brockington, whose River ward includes Mooney’s Bay.

The park and beach are already big draws for families from across the city, but the new playground will make it even more of a community hub, he said.

“This is not a neighbourhood park, this is a jewel in the city’s crown as far as parks go.”

The playground will also attempt to set the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest set of continuous monkey bars, the city says.

Once construction is completed, Brockington said he’d like to use some of money from his ward’s parks fund to add benches, picnic tables and BBQ pits next year to increase the draw for families.

There has been no public consultation on the changes to Mooney’s Bay Park. The public was not officially notified about the new playground until the city issued a press release on Friday.

“The details couldn’t be released because the city was negotiating with this company,” Brockington said. “I didn’t want to get the community’s hopes up on a project that had a fair chance of not coming to fruition.” he said.

Dan Chenier, general manager of the parks, recreation and culture department, says the company submitted an application through a grant program that sees the city split the cost of building new recreation facilities with community partners.

But city staff put a rush on dealing with the application, he said.

“This project would not be coming to Ottawa if we could not fast-track it to meet their production requirements,” Chenier said.

Brockington said the outdoor fitness park has reached the end of its life cycle. It will be removed in the coming weeks, as will three nearby footbridges.

“The full intention is to rebuild it … the only promise I can’t make is where the park is going to go,” Brockington said, adding he plans to hold community consultations in the fall.

The site needs to be ready for construction to begin in early July. Filming is scheduled to last 10 weeks.

The playground will be completed in 2017, with an official opening ceremony to be held on Canada Day. The television series will air on TVO throughout the spring and summer next year.

Source: Ottawa Citizen, Matthew Pearson, 13 May 2016