Parks

Dartmouth park to get HRM’s first playbox

Box filled with toys will be added to the park

This story contains a correction

Aberdeen Court Park is getting Halifax Regional Municipality’s first playbox.

Right now the Dartmouth park sits empty and underused. Half of it is paved and used to be a privately owned tennis court; the other half is a green space that used to have a slide that was taken out because it was unsafe.

Last fall, Coun. Tony Mancini walked around the park with municipal planners because people in the area wanted their playground back. But, there’s a shiny new playground just up the road at Caledonia Junior High School, which is too close to Aberdeen Court Park.

Instead, the municipality decided to install a playbox. A playbox is an unlocked, waterproof, metal box filled with toys and sports equipment. Whoever comes to the park can open it up and play with what’s is inside.

“I want to see the kids playing,” said Heather MacDonald, who lives nearby.

MacDonald said younger families are moving into the area and are excited to have a playbox. She said the park is “safe and it brings the community together.”

HRM planner Penny Kuhn said she was inspired to bring playboxes to the HRM after seeing them installed in Kentville. Kuhn said free or unstructured play is important, and that’s the type of play these boxes inspire. She also wants the municipality to improve on an underused space.

Playboxes have started popping up all over the country. Kingston and Timmins in Ontario and communities throughout British Colombia have playboxes.

The playbox will be installed in the spring, and cost about $600. Initially, the box will be filled with gently used sports gear, like skipping ropes, soccer balls and hockey sticks, from recreation centres around the HRM.

Mancini said the playbox’s success will depend on the community. The neighbourhood needs to make the box their own by donating items.

Local homeowners says they are worried that if the playbox is popular, it will increase the number of cars in the area. More cars means it would harder for local residents to find parking.

But for MacDonald, she’s excited her grandchildren will be able to play with the toys and use the park when they come to visit.

Correction: Feb. 4, 2019: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Penny Kuhn.