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By Julia Lloyd
Francois-Phillipe Champagne, Canada's Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, stopped and visited one of Orangeville's accessible and inclusive playgrounds on Monday (July 8)..
The Minister is currently touring Southern Ontario to visit community infrastructure projects benefitting from federal government funding.
“A small amount in a small community makes a big difference,” said Minister Champagne. “I always pick smaller projects to remind them it is not about the big flashy stuff, it is about making a difference.”
The playground at Maywood Park was opened in 2017. It cost approximately $100,000 to build; with the Town of Orangeville receiving $47,000 from the federal government towards the project.
“I heard this is the best park in Canada,” laughed Minister Champagne.
The grant came from the federal Enabling Accessibility Fund, which provides funding for eligible capital projects that will increase accessibility for people with disabilities in Canadian communities.
The minister said he is a huge fan of small towns and believes providing funding for small but extremely important projects in these towns helps create more opportunities for the community.
Orangeville Mayor Sandy Brown was at the park to greet the minister and thank him for taking time to come and see this where the money from the grant actually went.
“I came from a small town, myself,” said the minister.
One of the people accompanying him on his Southern Ontario tour was Ann-Clara Vaillancourt, who said that the Minister truly loves coming and visiting small towns and seeing what the federal government can do to help.
Jane Elliot, representing the Quebec-based firm Jambette, was also on hand for Monday's visit. Ms. Elliot helped design the accessible and inclusive Maywood Park playground.
One of the really interesting features of the playground is the all-accessible swing for any child to use.
“If the caregiver brought them here in a wheelchair, the swing is set up right at transfer height so the parent can make an equal level transfer,” explained Ms. Elliot. “But this is not just for kids in wheelchair, you think of children with down-syndrome or autism — any kid can use the swing.”
A mom visiting the park with her daughter got the chance to speak with the minister and tell him what it is about this park that they enjoy.
“It is nice to have this park close to us,” said Elizabeth Thorndyke, whose little girl couldn't stop staring at the minister, wondering who that man was bothering her during playtime.
“I love the soft ground instead of rocks or sand and she and I love all the green space. It is a really great park to have around,” said Ms. Thorndyke.
Maywood Park is one of three accessible and inclusive parks in the town.
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