Big city play parks need shade sails say parents

Helen Hopkins is leading a petition to have shade sails installed at Mawson Park. Picture: Emma Reeves www.communitypix.com.au d417948
Helen Hopkins is leading a petition to have shade sails installed at Mawson Park. Picture: Emma Reeves www.communitypix.com.au d417948

Councillor Christine Hamilton-Prime presented a 169-signature petition requesting sun protection for the Hillarys’ park at a recent Joondalup Council meeting.

‘Ideally I’d like to see shade sails over all the playgrounds that fall within Joondalup Council, but I’m hoping to start with this one, given the size and popularity of the space,’ lead petitioner Helen Hopkins said.

‘Given we are in an age where we teach our children to be sun safe and play outside as opposed to on computer games or watching TV, I believe the council has a responsibility to provide appropriate facilities.

‘When my young daughter (now aged four) got to the age when she wanted to visit the local playgrounds, I was astonished to find that virtually none within Joondalup Council area have shade sails.’

She said Mawson had one of the biggest ranges of play equipment, but in the summer could get ‘too hot to even touch’.

Joondalup Mayor Troy Pickard said the City considered natural shade to be more sustainable than artificial shade.

‘A second playground at the northern end of Mawson Park was recently opened to the local community,’ Cr Pickard said.

‘This new play area and equipment is shaded by several mature aged trees and is a great alternative to the original playground.’

Ms Hopkins said most playgrounds were constructed away from mature trees, possibly to prevent branches from falling on children and equipment.

‘Shade sails, whilst a considerable monetary investment, would serve both to provide a safe area to play and help to prolong the life of the equipment from blistering in the harsh Australian sun,’ Ms Hopkins said.

Mayor Pickard said the average cost of installing artificial shade structures at a playground was about $30,000.

‘This would equate to between $6 million and $7 million in expenditure to provide shade at the City’s 221 play spaces,’ he said. ‘This does not include expensive ongoing annual maintenance costs of $500,000 to $750,000 for upkeep, repair and cleaning,’ Cr Pickard said.

‘The City is currently determining whether it’s financially feasible to install shade structures at some of the bigger regional playgrounds.’