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Green space or playground?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013   by: Darren Taylor

A local man’s offer to donate funds towards the purchase of playground equipment for MacDonald Park (currently a green space at the west end of Marconi Street) has generated both interest from the City and considerable opposition from area residents.

Windsor Street resident Albert Williams offered $5,000 for playground equipment to the City of Sault Ste. Marie in August 2012, and is now willing to offer more after holding a charity hockey tournament fundraiser.

At the request of City Council, the Sault Ste. Marie Community Services Department held a public open house at the Civic Centre Tuesday to gather input.

Williams told Tuesday “it’s already considered a park.  Let’s make it a real park.  It would be good for my six-year-old daughter and other kids to meet there and play.”

Williams said he asked for public support within his neighbourhood and stated “I only ran into two people who were opposed.”

However, many are not sold on the proposal.

A Linstedt Street resident, with a neighbourhood petition of his own, told at Tuesday’s meeting “most of the 57 residents who signed the petition, two thirds of them, are against this.”

The resident told us “we already have an existing playground at River View School.”

The Algoma District School Board (ADSB) school property, which has play equipment  (which some consider outdated), is situated a stone’s throw away from MacDonald Park.

“If swings are built at River View School by the existing playground, I think everybody would be happy, and it would be a minor expense compared to the expense involved with a playground at MacDonald Park, whether he (Williams) raised money for this or not.”

The Lindstedt Street man added playgrounds within parks raise the possibility of drug dealing by youths and adults.

“There’s the possibility of trouble at night,” he said.

“I’m aware kids are already going through MacDonald Park now, but this gives them an added excuse to hang around.  The older residents can’t just shoo them away.  It’s going to be a backyard hangout.  If there were no problems with this, all these residents wouldn’t have signed this petition.”

Marconi Street resident Harry Wynne told us Tuesday “I’m not against a better playground.  What I am against is tearing up beautiful grassland.  These days we’re very conscious about being ‘green.’  Let’s keep our grasslands as they are and simply take this new proposed equipment and add it to the existing playground at the school.  That’s my feeling,” Wynne said.

Wynne added “that seems to be the prevailing feeling here at this meeting tonight.”

Recreation and Culture Division Manager Joe Cain said “evidence suggests there’s need for a playground.”

“If you look at the area, there’s only one park setting in that neighbourhood, and that’s MacDonald Park, with no playground equipment.”

“To the west there’s a playground at Penhorwood Park, to the south there’s a playground at Boston Avenue, and to the north there’s Forest Glen and Forest Heights.  We wouldn’t want kids to cross main arteries to access a playground.”

Cain added the River View School playground equipment is considered outdated.

“Mr. Williams,” Cain said, “has offered money for playground equipment, so this is the site we’re looking at.”

Would Williams be willing to set up playground equipment at River View School with the ADSB’s permission and leave MacDonald Park as an untouched green space?

“That could be an option.  We’ll see where this goes.”

Input gathered from Tuesday’s open house will be sent to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee (PRAC), which will prepare a report for Council’s June 10 meeting.

It is estimated by the City that installation of a playground at MacDonald Park (with Council’s approval), consisting of a play structure and swings, would cost $18,500.

Williams’ donation of $5,000 would reduce the City’s cost to $13,500.

It is estimated annual maintenance of the site would be approximately $1,035. 


Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
PipeBomb 5/15/2013 8:26:29 AM Report

Typical SSM idiots. Nice guy offers to buy children playground equipment and the neighborhood craps all over it. No wonder this city is a hole.
cheap 5/15/2013 8:58:49 AM Report

I live across the street from a park in the west end about 25 years ago a few families on the other street tried to close the park due to sex in the park on the top of the swings and teenagers peeking over the fence to see her sunbathe all unfounded. Thanks to Harold Brain who at the time was head of Parks and recreation personally checked it out and saved our park and my children and grandchildren grew up in that park. It is nice to hear the children playing and laughing and older ladies using it to rest in, half way of their dailey walk. Parents and grandparents come in cars for the kids to have fun along with young mothers. There has been a few instances but that comes anywhere you go but on the whole it is a great park and well used. I personally believe that children need a place to run, climb, and have fun and laugh and interact with other kids.
PLEASE People who are against this Park rethink your negative NO as you will enjoy the kids playing happily.
Me Myself an I 5/15/2013 9:03:42 AM Report

If they were going to use this park to deal drugs after dark, what is stopping them from doing that now? Also there is a path in the trees behind that green space, offers lots of cover from prying eyes. think that is where the deals would be going down, if they aren't doing that already.
imasocialbutterfly 5/15/2013 9:16:28 AM Report

Anyone who would like they're opinion heard by the City please email . Your opinions will be considered in the decision making process.
ktthomas 5/15/2013 9:20:58 AM Report

I have to agree 100% with the other two who have commented. I believe this city should be called " Sault " SHIT" Marie! Because the idiots who run this city i bet have "NEVER" had a heart? The reason this city has such a high crime rate is because there is nothing for the youth to do! If you give them something to do like a after school program, which would include interest that the kids would like to do, because face it most of this city is on Ow, ODSP, and the rest have Shity jobs that they have to take In order to survive. So their parents can not afford to send them to places that bleed you dry for 45 min of a lesson over a period of 3 to 5 yrs. Furthermore, your city is a reflection of how you run it! So for the people who do, I sugest you start looking at other cities that have a low crime rate, and see what they have in their cities for the kids and take notes! However, if you ask me it's because all this city cares about is the "MONEY" not the well being of the "PEOPLE" who "LIVE" here!
bango 5/15/2013 9:21:07 AM Report

Dont blame the few kids that are going to be idiots at parks. the city is full of them...look to your friends or neighbours who are shi*ty as* parents and let them run wild.
johnnyc 5/15/2013 9:25:17 AM Report

Stereotypes and negativity...

It's a shame that tax dollars and paranoia are slowing this process down.

Let the generous man help our city build a park...there should be so many more areas for children and families to enjoy the outdoors, locally, for many of us do not have the money or luxury of putting playgrounds in our backyards for our children...

Leave the trouble at night to the police to deal with...

and I'd guess more drug dealing goes on in bars and cars then on top of a slide in a park lol

Stop hatin' on something positive!
ktthomas 5/15/2013 9:29:01 AM Report

As for the people who are against this, why are you in the city if you don't like people around your "PROPERTY" why don't you go buy a house in the country where there is no one around. Drugs and people who sell them are always going to be around, no matter where you are. You have to be the change that you want to see in the world. Haters gonna Hate!!!
Slim Shady 5/15/2013 9:34:25 AM Report

@Me Myself an I

I agree with you….

The only reason the residents would not want a Park is that they do not want “the noise” of children laughing, yelling and being a kid. I got news for them – WHAT DO YOU THINK A PARK IS FOR?! People figure when they buy there house across/beside from land that is designated as “Park or Green space” that this is an extension of their back yard… WRONG. This land is designed for the benefit of local kids and adults. We owe it to our youth to provide facilities where they can play and get exercise. If we don’t, then don’t be surprised if they hang downtown at the bus terminal and cause mischief.

Kudos for the citizen who wants to donate and raise funds to improve his neighbourhood. You can tell who is a “real” parent and who are not. I wish there were more people like him.

If you don’t want the “noise” then do not buy a house near a Park or School. If you want a bigger back yard, don’t be so cheap and buy a bigger lot or move to the country.

I can’t stand the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) people. They are hypocrites at best.
imasocialbutterfly 5/15/2013 9:35:12 AM Report

Thank you so much everyone for your opinions! Please forward them to .

I would just like to clarify that the city is supportive and excited about the park!! They have agreed to pay the balance of the parks cost over and above the $7000 donation. It's residents of the city that are opposing the park.
ktthomas 5/15/2013 9:50:57 AM Report

@imasoicalbutterfly I'm not against the city for putting in the rest of the money. However, my comments are not just about the park they are about this whole city! Kudos to the city for putting up the money, but why aren't they doing more than just a park?
imasocialbutterfly 5/15/2013 10:02:43 AM Report

I agree that there is a lot more the city could do for the youth around here. One day my daughter is going to grow out of playgrounds and I hope that there will be something for her to do besides hang out at the mall.

Any ideas you have can be brought up to City Council. They are happy to hear residents ideas and are willing to meet somewhere in the middle (where $$$ is concerned). But be prepared....your in for a fight from residents who will oppose you.

The idea has been tossed around that every year some of the Charity Hockey Tournament funds could be used to some way improve the city for children and youth. I support this idea...but am I going to be in for a fight every year??

northwoodson 5/15/2013 10:05:21 AM Report

How about a heirloom seed garden? There could be gardens everywhere, there is so much empty space. Anyone could volunteer, students, ontario works recipients...ect. There would be so much abundance of healthy detoxifying food for everyone. Couldn't we just stop watching tv and boycott the toxic grocery store and make this happen? This would solve so many problems.
ThinkAgain 5/15/2013 10:11:20 AM Report

Use the money to fix outdated equipment.
greendreams 5/15/2013 10:37:12 AM Report

I am a mom to 2 young kids, too young for school yet. We live a few doors down from a school that has lots for great play equipment. But we are not allowed to go on school property during school hours. We were chased off one day last fall. So now if my one and two year old want to play at the park before 4pm, I have to put them in the car and drive 15 minutes to Bellevue. This man is trying to do something nice for children and a separate park would be accessible to kids under school age too, which is wonderful. It doesn't help my kids, since we aren't close to it. Probably all those against it are old folks. I find many old folks here dislike children and want everything in the city to cater to seniors. Everything can't be about old people here, or families with young kids will be driven out. Need some balance. Good luck getting more play equipment for kids, we sure need it!!
derb222 5/15/2013 10:59:39 AM Report

Typical negative SSM people. Someone who tries to donate and work to better the community being shut down by idiots. FYI, people that do not attend the public school cannot use the schools park during school hours, this is the time when most pre-school kids need the park the most. City parks are the option for this group. I know because my wife was asked to leave a school park while my 1 and 2 year olds where getting some activity time. She was told to stay off the property until after school hours. Our community built and updated a city park and it gets heavy use by kids everyday that is nice to have in our community. Yes from time to time older kids will hang out at night doing some shady stuff but building another park or not won't change that. Good work to all the community leaders and possative people that donate and raise funds to make things better.
Stugatzu 5/15/2013 11:25:12 AM Report

"We already have existing equipment at River View School".... point of fact, the school is private property -- if you're not a student there -- you're trespassing.

Let them build the park!
missing33years 5/15/2013 12:28:14 PM Report

if any of our property taxes goes to the school board then are the schools in fact public property ? If not then I want a lawyer to for 15 years of taxes returned to me with intrest
Stugatzu 5/15/2013 12:36:30 PM Report

Right.... that's why the schools all have signs on the buildings that specifically say "Trespassing Prohibited"

Anyway, let them build the park.
Slim Shady 5/15/2013 12:41:08 PM Report


The reason why you can't go onto school grounds during school hours is for safety reasons. Too many kids are abducted. Would you want strangers roaming school grounds while your 5 year old is playing?

greendreams 5/15/2013 12:46:57 PM Report

Yes, schools are publicly funded, but for safety it makes sense not to have random folks wandering thru school yards, even if they are taxpayers. I was just agreeing that improving an existing school yard still excludes many children, who would enjoy a playground they would be allowed to use.
Poshkitty 5/15/2013 12:49:54 PM Report

Build the park already!! :) ...don't fear the what if's!!...We will deal with them as they come! Come on Sault Ste. Marie! We are better than eachother! Here these middle class individuals are giving a gift back to our they have to? No! But they are!! Truly a gift! Thank You!!! :)
Koolaid 5/15/2013 12:52:13 PM Report

Whaaaa i want a park whaaaaa !!
ShawnM 5/15/2013 1:37:45 PM Report

I went to the meeting last night, and some of the problems I see is only a select few people were surveyed if they wanted this, not every road that buts up to this park, so to say only 2 people were against it is a lie. I saw more than just 2 people against it last night from my road. Also to avoid people who you knew would be against it is clearly not being open to all points of view, just a sheltered "everyone wants it and I am going to do what I want" point of view.

One thing I suggested too as people have a problem there already with people cutting through back yards is to build a fence around it to direct people to only use the paths.

At least one good thing I heard is they are not looking at cutting down any trees to build this. That whole area back there is protected land and it creates a buffer. From what I heard too we pay higher taxes because its a protected area. This could bring one more legality is if a structure is even allowed to be built on protected lands.
dmp15248 5/15/2013 1:39:41 PM Report

send an email to Joe Cain--->

This is City property so everyone is entitled to their opinion on this.

More voices heard, the easier the decision to be made.

Support is appreciated!!!
JohnJ 5/16/2013 11:39:34 AM Report

Mr Williams should be commended for his efforts. Fundraising this money is a great way to help the community. When it comes to playground equipment I have some experience with it in a neighborhood as I have a similar park where I have lived for 21 years ( it is neighborhood run however) on Greenview Lane. But the same experience applies.
When people buy such equipment I believe two concerns exist-

1. utilization- we all want the equipment utilized. Over the years our park has become very underutilized. To maximize the use of these funds it would make sense to update or add to the school equipment which I understand is about 100 feet away. This way school kids can use it during the day and neighbourhood kids can use it after school hours. It will be well utilized. If you have two separate sets of equipment that close together it will surely be under utilized as our park's equipment has been.

2. outdated and worn out equipment- Mr Williams says the school equipment is outdated. This gives an opportunity to add to it with more current equipment. If a second playground is made, over a short period you will have two sets of outdated equipment!

Not being from the area I believe gives me a chance to think with more clarity and less emotion about this topic. There is nothing wrong with maintaining some green space to walk, throw a ball, kick a ball or fly a kite witout equipment in the way, particularly when it cam be added to existing playground equipment merely several feet away.

imasocialbutterfly 5/17/2013 12:10:48 AM Report

The school board has been contacted and they have confirmed that play equipment on school property is not allowed to be used by the public during school hours as other commenters have posted. Therefore, using the funds towards updating school playground equipment will not make it accessible to the younger children in the neighbourhood.

Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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