Guelph’s Exhibition Park wins design award

City and Earthscape honoured at 2016 PRO Awards

Guelph, Ont., April 14, 2016 – The City of Guelph and Earthscape were honoured last Thursday evening at the annual Parks and Recreation Ontario (PRO) Educational Forum.

The City and Earthscape took home an Awards of Excellence in the Excellence in Design Award category for the new natural playground space in Exhibition Park.

“We are honoured to share this PRO Award with Earthscape, which recognizes their professional and unique approach of designing public spaces, their culture of putting kids first and dedication to adapting to client and site specific needs,” says Rory Templeton, landscape planner with the City and manager of the Exhibition Park play equipment project.

Each year, through its awards program, PRO recognizes and honours the achievements of its members and those in the parks and recreation community. The Excellence in Design Award recognizes a park, recreation and/or cultural facility or renovation project in a completed stage that has demonstrated high standards of planning, design, community involvement, operation and maintenance, quality of aesthetics, usability, accessibility and versatility.

“We were thrilled to work with Earthscape on this project,” adds Templeton. “From the first public consultation meeting, they listened to what the community wanted and delivered beyond expectation. The final product is not only a well-designed play structure in a park, it has become the spirit of what every public space should be—a place for friends and families to explore, learn and play. Overall, Earthscape treated the Exhibition Park project as if it was in their backyard.”

Templeton also shares that the new Exhibition Park design has set a new standard for all City-owned playgrounds.

Heather Flaherty, acting general manager of Parks and Recreation at the City, and Preston Stringer, playground designer at Earthscape, jointly accepted the award in Collingwood on April 7.

This is the first PRO Award of Excellence in Design for Earthscape, an Elmira-based custom playground design-build company that partners with cities and landscape architecture firms to design and build one-of-a-kind destination playgrounds.

About the PRO Awards

The PRO Awards recognize outstanding achievements of individuals and organizations that have enhanced the quality of life for Ontario’s citizens. The awards showcase the very best of recreation and parks and also serve to draw attention to the importance and benefits of recreation for healthy people, vibrant communities and sustainable environments.

About Exhibition Park

Exhibition Park—home to the City’s first-ever natural playground—reopened last June following the replacement of its aging playground equipment. The redesign of this popular public space was the result of a collaborative design effort between the City, Earthscape, and the Exhibition Neighbourhood Group.

The playground features a large senior log jam with slide and climbing nets, overhead climbing bars, a junior structure designed to look like a bird holding a leaf, a large earth berm with small slides, boulders, rope climber, stone and log stairs and curbing, swings and a sandpit complete with hand pump for water. A drinking fountain with water bottle filler station was also installed. Among the well-spaced play elements are pathways, rocks and additional trees.

To ensure all kids can be a part of the excitement, the playground focuses on the seven principles of inclusive play that promotes fairness, participation, intuitive design, independence, safety standards, degrees of challenging activities, and comfortable spaces.

Exhibition Park was one of four City parks to have its play equipment replaced in 2014 as part of the Council-approved Annual Play Equipment Replacement Program budget. The new playground cost $235,000.

For more information

Rory Barr Templeton
Landscape Planner
Planning Services
519-822-1260 extension 2436
[email protected]

Preston Stringer
Playground designer
[email protected]