Lieutenant Governor of Ontario David C. Onley, Toronto City Councillors Josh Matlow and Norm Kelly and community members helped welcome the official ceremonial launch of Neshama Playground, the city's Oriole Park that is fully accessible for all.
On Jun. 8, 2008, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario David C. Onley and Prince Edward helped break ground for Neshama Playground, a fully accessible and state-of-the-art playground that is the first of its kind in Toronto – the city’s policy directive is to establish universal accessibility.
For a ceremonial opening at the city’s Oriole Park, the Lieutenant Governor returned to view and tour the inclusive playground for all children. Alongside City Councillors Josh Matlow and Norm Kelly and various community leaders, Onley thanked everyone for their hard work, including Friends of Oriole Park and A Bunch of Guys, a group that raised approximately $700,000 from private donors.
“It’s hard to believe that it was four years ago that his Royal Highness Prince Edward and Mayor David Miller and I were here to have the launch ceremony for the Neshama Playground,” said Onley. “There were only posters on needles and signs on fences to give us a sense as to what was going to be coming down the road. My congratulations to everyone who have been involved because some four years later you have exceeded expectations.”
Neshama Playground features Braille panels, accessible swings, a water play area, a climbing merry-go-round and bounce pad, play structures and sensory musical functions. It cost between $1.35 million and $2.5 million to construct, according to a letter sent to Mayor Rob Ford by Friends of Oriole Park Acting President Ulli Rath.
“I have always liked to remind people that one of the official slogans of the City of Toronto is: a city within a park,” said City Councillor and Chair of the Parks and Environment Committee Norm Kelly. “So parks are very important and a strategic asset to the City of Toronto. They contribute vitally to the quality of life we all enjoy and appreciate.”
Brendan Caldwell, a spokesperson for A Bunch of Guys, delivered his speech by reading an excerpt from Oscar Wilde’s “The Selfish Giant,” (see video) a children’s tale of a giant who owns a beautiful garden, but on his return from visiting friends he finds that children are in his garden, which then prompts him to build a fence keeping them out.
Oriole Park’s Neshama Playground is located a two blocks west of Davisville Subway Station.