Category Archives: parks

Dual purpose summer/winter playgrounds?

Having children gives you a new view on the world, for sure.

On the way back from the Communauto parking lot, a block and a half from home, we stopped at our favourite close park, the Parc des compagnons, that little park on Mont Royal Ave, just East of Papineau (with a concrete banquet table. More on that in a future post.)

The tots wanted to play in the playground, in the middle of winter. They don’t care that it’s minus 20 with the windchill. Aged 6 and 7 now, they decided they wanted to build a snow fort. So we did, around the legs of one of the slides. It was the perfect size and a pre-made roof to boot. Then it dawned on me that really, playgrounds ought to be designed for both summer AND winter play. We finished the fort in a half an hour, but there was no other structure nearby to build another fort under. Just the one. But you need two snow forts to have a snowball fight, no? (Nod to the pacifists here.)

That got me thinking. Why not rethink the park, with winter functions in mind?

We got to chatting, the tots and I. Nibs said: What about just piling the snow up in the playground, for building tunnel forts? (That was my favourite winter past-time, into (huge) snow-dumps from clearing the back alleyway.) Why not snow slides? (Why not?)

Are any playgrounds getting real use in the winter, in Montreal? or are they pretty much dead wastelands, like the Parc des compagnons, until the spring brings the children back? Can anything be done? Would it really be all that costly or dangerous?

Public views… from the sky?

Montrealers are lucky, I suppose. We have Mont Royal, with great public views of the city scape from on high, at a few of choice spots, if we include the Westmount Summit.

The Olympic Stadium tower, for a fee, offers a magnificent side view of the mountain and downtown. The Hotel de la Montagne, with its micro-swimming pool, enables a few choice glances for the price of nachos and beer. And Altitude 737, that “bar-disco-drinking complex” on top of Place Ville Marie is another fee option. I still get vertigo thinking of it. Perhaps there are others.

But would it be possible for the city to invest in public views, from some of our skyscrapers?

Imagine: you take a dedicated elevator to the (top…near top) floor of a downtown office building. The entire floor is set up like a public park. A non-profit concession offers veggie dogs and ethical coffee. There’s a children’s playground with swings. Benches and grass. Spectacular views on our city.  The concession provides brown paper bags for those who want to share a discrete glass of wine, but forgot to bring one. A real Montreal moment.

Imaginable, ca?  Has any city ever tried that?