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Yellowknife

Yellowknife playground to host event after summer vandalism


A formal opening ceremony will take place this week for Yellowknife’s inclusive playground, a year after children began using the facility.

The City of Yellowknife and Canadian Tire, whose Jumpstart initiative provided most of the funding, said a celebration of the playground would begin at 10am on Wednesday.

Yellowknife Canadian Tire owners Jason and Karen Butorac made a personal contribution of $100,000 to the project. Jumpstart provided the remainder of the $1.6 million necessary to build a playground with features like braille, double-wide ramps, a roller slide, quiet zones, a bucket seat with a harness swing, and a swing for children in wheelchairs.

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The playground, in Somba K’e Park, is the first such accessible facility in the Northwest Territories.

However, it has also faced a wave of vandalism since opening to children in September last year.

“Everybody needs to show up and say stop,” said Jason Butorac earlier this summer.

“We built a park with handicapped children in mind. My wife and I spent our own money, and we’re letting people trash it? I’m so mad.”

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A photo of graffiti on the accessible playground in Yellowknife's Somba K'e Park on June 8, 2022.
Explicit graffiti at the accessible playground in Yellowknife’s Somba K’e Park in June 2022. Amelia Eqbal/Cabin Radio

Jumpstart said in July it was taking measures to address “deeply upsetting” vandalism “at what is intended to be a safe and welcoming space for all kids and families of Yellowknife.”

On behalf of the charity, Canadian Tire’s corporate communications team offered Cabin Radio an interview about those measures, but then declined to let the interview proceed unless the resulting article could be reviewed by Canadian Tire before publication.

In a written statement instead provided two weeks later, Canadian Tire said Jumpstart “continues to work closely with the City of Yellowknife to determine a long-term solution to maintain the integrity of the playground and ensure it is a safe and welcoming space for everyone.”

Jumpstart’s manager of inclusive play, Lindsay Joseph, is expected to outline some of the measures being taken at Wednesday’s ceremony, where the city said Yellowknife’s mayor, Rebecca Alty, and around 60 Yellowknife children will also appear.

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