Previously known as “the park where you smushed your brother’s face into the sand”, this has been a long-time local favourite for our family. St-Charles Park in Dorval Village recently reopened, and dare I say, it might now be one of Montreal’s best inclusive playgrounds. Though one of the last cities on the island to build an accessible and inclusive playground, the city’s new design incorporates some of the best features that we’ve seen around Montreal.
There’s a lot, so let’s get into it.
The poured-in-place rubber surfacing enables easy maneuvering for all ages and abilities, and while I’m not a huge fan of ramp systems, the ramps on the large play structure have well-spaced activity panels on the raised sections as well as at ground level. It’s not a “ramp to nowhere” like so many others.
Delightfully, all the play panels work. Press the sensors to hear the sounds of rushing water, a howling wolf, and honking geese. Did I wonder at first why someone had a weird ring tone that they wouldn’t shut off? Yes I did. Try out the slides, the tallllll rope climbers that impressed even my 6-foot tall 15-year-old, and have a rock in the moving “boat”. The whole structure is big, super fun, just challenging enough, and was filled with kids at 8am!
For those craving TONS of interactive sensory features, there is an entire area in the middle of the playground devoted to tactile panels where you can stand or sit to touch, spin, and explore cause and effect.
You’ll also find a giant frog to hug or hop onto, the “Quiet Grove” which is designed as a relaxing spot for children who become overstimulated, and an adorable covered seating area.
But wait, there’s tons more!
The great toddler climber tucked in the corner has ADA stairs, multiple slides, a bridge, and lots to climb over, under, and across. Nearby is the fantastic roller slide for kids with cochlear implants (there’s no static build up). Just watch your footing on the artificial turf, I slid back down on my crappy flip flops.
There are baby swings, adult swings, a saucer swing, and two 3-point harness adaptive swings. And for those who want some sand, there’s a small sandbox.
And of course, what’s a beautiful new playground without a splash pad. With products from Montreal-based Vortex, this lovely area is surrounded by lounge chairs. Bliss. One of the highlights of the water section is the amazing Water Journey Tide Pool with its rounded stepping stones and softly flowing stream. Great for the littles who don’t want to get super wet or have a face full of water. Love!
Other features at the park include bathroom and changing rooms, a wall-mounted screen for outdoor movie showings (so cool), loads of picnic tables and seating, a drinking fountain, and shaded spots around the edges.
Couple of things that need tweaking (In my opinion):
- The bathroooms need to be unlocked earlier and/or have a sign posted with the opening hours. When we were there, two sets of parents were looking for a spot for their kids to pee.
- Post a sign near the splash pad with how to turn it on and its opening hours. No one wants to have to go on their phone and surf through the city’s website looking for the info.
- A couple of pieces of equipment need to have bolts tightened (I’ll email the city).
Things to note:
- The splash pad is generally on from 9am to 9pm, but has pre- and post-season hours. You can check here: https://www.ville.dorval.qc.ca/en/facilities/page/water-games
Press the sensors to turn on the main sequence or the river section.
- There are small parking lots on Martin Avenue, right across from City Hall. Or park along the street (don’t block people’s driveways).
- The park is only partially fenced. It’s large, so there aren’t necessarily great sight lines if you have a group of kids all over the place.