We first visited this vast park in 2015, when we played on the older (and much loved) wooden play structure, wandered through the gardens and paths, and watched ducks swimming in the ponds.
When I heard that the playground was being renovated, it was time for another visit. We came back in late June 2018, and I’m just getting around to writing it up now (in October), Oops.
So…..the playground underwent some changes, and while we liked the new equipment that was put in, a lot of the older bits that could still use updating were remained untouched, and some of the new changes were received less than enthusiastically by local residents.
Let’s get into it!
The wooden play structure was wiped out, replaced by the weird and modern wood and cable climber for big kids. Now some people don’t like “weird and modern”, but we do. Yes, it’s completely different, and kids have to figure out HOW to play on it, but it’s also challenging for older kids and different than the normal stairs-platform-slide combo which can be found at almost every other nearby park. Climb up the rope, cross over the tricky bridge (which my 10-year old found hard because the rope railings were wider than his arms, but whatever, he figured it out), then come down the tall slide.
The toddler climber is still intact, which is too bad. There’s a ramp that could make it wheelchair accessible, except there’s a 1-foot step at the bottom. What?
There would even be room at the top of the ramp for a wheelchair or walker to turn, AND there is an accessible steering wheel and tic-tac-toe wall, but as it’s impossible to GET UP the ramp, it’s kind of a moot point.
There is also a staircase, slides, monkey bars, and ladders. It’s ok.
In the surrounding wood chips, four new accessible panels have been added and include gears to turn, and kaleidoscopes to look through. These are great sensory products and fun for all ages.
Much of the rest of the play products are the same like the old metal spring riders and seesaw, the wiggly finger-catching balance beam and plastic crawl tunnels, the cute train, and the puzzling…elevated sand table? What is that thing round thing? We couldn’t figure it out three years ago and we couldn’t now. It seems like a seated-height sand table, but there’s a hole in the middle. A marble run? I dunno. There was some sand in it and a mess of sand underneath on the brick walkway.
The big bank of swings were replaced by two adult, two baby, and one adaptive swing. When we left there were quite a lot of people, and quite a lot of grumbling about there not being enough swings for the number of kids using the park.
Close to Sherbrooke Street (and not within eyesight of the playground) is the concrete splash pad/fountain. The sensor button is on the post with the picture. On the OTHER side of the post. I stood there for a bit going “Huh?”
There are ground jets and one tall sprayer. Note that the city calls this a wading pool, though there’s no standing water. Reader Andrea also mentioned that “near the sprinkler thing where the trees are closest, and the water accumulates more, there’s a very slippery spot (where there’s shade and the ground obviously doesn’t get to dry out as much).” Thanks Andrea!
There is lots to explore in the rest of the 26 acre park. Stroller-friendly walking trails under mature and picturesque willow trees, greenspaces, gardens, and soothing waterways and ponds. I love, love any place with trickling water and bridges. The history of the park is interesting and the landscaping was done around the existing streams and woods, and inspired by the work of Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect behind Mount Royal Park and Central Park in NYC.
We parked in the lot beside the new Westmount Recreation Centre (but read the signs), then walked up the paths to the playground (about 5 minutes away), but you could also brave parking on Sherbrooke St. or one of the surrounding streets. There are tons of little cafés along Sherbrooke, and Dairy Queen!
So ya, a couple of good changes, some things that should be changed but weren’t, and all in all this park as a whole still needs some landscaping and investment in furnishings. The brick walkways through the playground were missing bricks and had deep, tripping holes in spots, the landscape fabric under the wings was a mess (already), the grass is bare, and the bathroom facilities are a bit scary. There also need to be signs at the bathroom and splash pad with the hours of operation, the city’s website has no info.
Things to note:
-I cannot find any hours of operation for the splash pad/fountain and the city has never answered my questions, so….?
-The little Hansel and Gretel looking building (near the pond) housing the bathrooms should be open from 8am-10pm, but it was locked when we visited around 9am.
-All the equipment is in the same general area, there is no fencing, but the playground is in the middle of the park and away from the roads, you just have to be careful since the park is vast (26 acres!), and there are lots of places in which to hide.
-Some parts of the playground are wood chips, and some are sand.
-Pool info can be found HERE.
I came across this video about the Hidden History of Westmount Park that was interesting. If you’re a total nerd like me.
VIDEO LINK: https://youtu.be/3xxef6AEbW8