June 2011

There’s a common complaint in Calgary this year: dandelions galore! But I have another personal pet peeve and that is the excessively long grass in and around playgrounds in the city. The playground between our house and my daughter’s school just got cut this week, but the grass was up to my calves and the mosquitoes swarm like crazy. Seriously, how can kids play in that?  You can lose a small child in that long grass…

The playground I went to today, however, was even worse. We walked over to a park near my in-laws house, one that overlooks a ravine, and I was totally flabbergasted by height of the grass, the number of thistles, and the way they had encroached into the gravel.

The grass was up to my hips and grew right up to the edge of the gravel. There were thistles everywhere, even growing up through the gravel and a few of them came above my knees. I won’t mention the dandelions because no one is doing anything about the dandelions, but thistles hurt! There was a park bench at the edge of the playground, but you could barely see it for the weeds. I was more than a little annoyed at the state of that playground.

The kids coped well. They made up a game of burying the thistles in the gravel and planting a ‘wish’ (dandelion puffball) on top. Then they created a thistle catapult using the swings to launch thistles around.

After the kids had their fill of playing and we started to walk back, I noticed a sign on the edge of the greenbelt surrounding the playground that said “Cared for Naturally”.

It all became crystal clear; some well meaning but misguided people had once upon a time decided to let this area grow wild and the city perhaps decided that meant they were off the hook for basic maintenance.  I have no problem, in theory, with leaving a green space next a ravine unkempt, or ‘natural’. But the utter lack of regard for keeping the space surrounding the playground equipment tidy, clean and accessible for the children who use it, is not acceptable.

So I did what I usually do when the City bugs me and got on the phone with 311 to complain.  After about 15 minutes of holding, explaining and waiting for the CSR to make their report, I got a reference number and a promise to pass it along to the appropriate departments.  I wonder how long it will take to get that playground cleaned up?

What do you think of the condition of outdoor City faclilities this year?