Monday 5 August 2013


We had occasion to go o the Calgary Rotary Challenger Park today. We were looking for a playground that we hadn’t been to before and thought that this relatively new built park would fit the bill. It is built on land donated by the Calgary Airport Authority and I would assume the Rotarians (?) have something to do with it. While we were there, ten or fifteen planes flew close overhead and I would imagine that the CAA donated the land because it really wasn’t good for much else.

There are three tennis courts, a basketball court, an all access playground, picnic facilities, a beautiful baseball diamond with bleachers, an immaculate soccer field, and a beautiful full track and off in the distance we could see where the high jump would be, the triple jump and I would imagine there was a long jump pit. The surfaces were state of the art, no crushed red gravel here! The play surfaces were rubberized and probably perfect for the different sports that were to play there.

I had heard that it was a park which was totally accessible for those in wheelchairs. The idea I thought was that it would put everyone on an even footing. There is even a life sized bronze statue of Ed Whalen (beloved, deceased, media personality) interviewing a wheelchair athlete and her coach. Everything just looked wonderful.

Looks are deceiving though. This was Heritage day and the place was a ghost town. There were no ball games being played, no soccer games, no track events, no picnics and no happy laughing handicapped children. Just Hurricane, Tornado, Louise and I wandering around a ghost facility. There was nothing open, not even the public wash rooms. I half expected a tumble weed to go rolling past us and Clint Eastwood to step out on the road. It was unsettling! We made the most of it, and the boys had fun playing on the lame “all access” play ground equipment.

I commend the idea of giving the handicapped kids a great place to play, but this place seemed to be designed by someone who had never seen a physically challenged person. God, give the Tim Horton’s Foundation a call, they at least know what fun is and how to build fun things for kids of all physical levels. The playground would be great if there were just one kid in a wheelchair or two other kids, but not all three.

I sat watching Hurricane and Tornado trying to have fun on the playground and I was wondering why this place is so empty on Heritage Day. In the online information, it brags about parking for 6 buses and 250 cars. It isn't really accessible by city transit, and it isn't a walk able kind of place. In short, if you don’t drive, you aren't welcome.

There is a sign on the track that reads, “Only running shoes or real running track shoes allowed on track!” Kind of cruel when you consider the place is designed with the handicapped person in mind.

 The place is a nice thought, but really why bother if you aren't going to go all the way and make it a wonderful place to be. Millions have been spent and I’m sure that somewhere, some politico is bragging about his/her legacy. The upkeep will be a burden as well.

This place is a FAIL!

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