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October 24, 2017

Rethinking, Rebuilding and Renewing Community Space

Photo: Greig Reekie
If they could, my kids would go to the park every single day. And if I'm being honest, I'm a little less enthused about park life.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a big cheerleader when it comes to getting out into the community, outdoor play, physical activity and FREE fun. For all those reasons, community parks are wonderful. But there's also an element of parks that grosses me out -- the ground. The vast majority of community parks are filled with sand or dirt, and in some cases, wood chips. Those aren't any better. Quite often, I find everything from cigarette butts, garbage, dog poo (and most definitely pee), and even pieces of glass buried within the sand. I'm always uneasy about having the kids pick up the sand, which they inevitably do, of course. Not to mention your shoes fill up with so much dirt you'd think you went to the beach. If only.

There are a few newer parks that have upgraded to a sponge-like floor system, and that makes me very happy. I understand that flooring is costly, and difficult to repair.

Photo: Greig Reekie
Recently, my family and I were able to visit the new Morgan Boyle Park in Richmond Hill. The community park is just beautiful with lots of benches, challenging climbers for kids of all ages and beautiful trees. And my favourite part? The floor. It's a soft flooring, with a springy like texture, jet black in colour, and, wait for it -- it's made entirely out of recycled tires!

In fact, Morgan Boyle Park is just one of the newest parks benefiting from the Ontario Tire Stewardship's Used Tire Program and Community Renewal Fund. This provincial tire recycling program is designed to divert tires from landfills and recycle them to make new, sustainable products. Like park flooring. Pretty cool, huh?

The newly refreshed Morgan Boyle Park features SoftSurface tiles, an equivalent of nearly 2500 recycled tires at this park alone. Impressive. The new flooring makes the park additionally accessible, softer for kids and adults, and the tile structure allows it to be easily replaced and repaired, if needed.

Photo: Greig Reekie

Photo: Greig Reekie
As for the kids, I think they liked it better, too. The floor gave them a bit more bounce to their bolt and they didn't need to dust off too much when they slid off the slide. I didn't mind resting my knapsack on the ground, and the risk of stepping in animal excrement is much, much lower. (This park was very, very clean, with the exception of freshly fallen leaves). Big impact on parents everywhere.

Since September 2009, instead of burning tires or sending them to landfills, the component materials from tires have been reused and recycled into dozens of innovative products including skating rinks, parking lots and playgrounds. To date, OTS's Community Renewal Fund program has helped more than 60 Ontario communities rethink, rebuild and renew their community space by using recycled rubber tires. And more than $1 million dollars in grants have been awarded to support sustainable projects across the province.

Photo: Greig Reekie
To find a community park that has benefited from OTS's Community Renewal Fund, you can visit their website, and of course, make it a teaching moment -- teach your kids about recycling, reducing waste and making something new and different.

The Ontario Tire Stewardship is hoping to spread their message of rethinking, rebuilding and renewing community spaces. How can you help? Well, don't toss your tires, for one. You can drop off your old tires at a registered collector. You can locate the list of registered collectors here.

Disclaimer: This is sponsored post. As always all opinions on my blog are my own.

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