Canadian Tire’s inclusive Jumpstart playground at Somba K’e Park in Yellowknife is now open.
The playground is designed so children of all abilities can play. It includes 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.
Jason Butorac, owner of the city’s Canadian Tire, said he and his wife Karen noticed a need for a park like this when they moved to Yellowknife.
“Karen got on the horn and we met with the city to find the location. We all agreed upon Somba K’e. We figured that was the perfect location for it,” he told Cabin Radio.
The city said in June the facility would be the first totally accessible playground in the territory.
Butorac said the park has been packed with children since it opened.
“We’re thrilled,” he said. “My wife and I have been working on this for two years, and then with Covid it got stalled.”
The Butoracs made a personal $100,000 donation to the park. The Jumpstart charity covered the rest of the $1.6 million required.
While the park has only been open for a few days, someone has already vandalized it, writing “Treaty 8” across some areas in spray paint.
“We understand the importance of Treaty 8,” said Butorac, “but [the graffiti] doesn’t need to be done at a children’s park.”
Butorac said he has contacted the Yellowknives Dene First Nation’s new Ndilǫ chief, Fred Sangris, for help resolving the vandalism problem.
In the meantime, Canadian Tire is sending staff to try to clean up the playground. Ultimate responsibility for park maintenance lies with the city.