Joondalup councillors discuss need for natural and artificial shade at play areas

IN what Joondalup Mayor Troy Pickard said was a first, councillors at Tuesday night's meeting unanimously defeated a City officers' recommendation.

Considering a 192-signature petition requesting shade sails be erected over the larger play equipment area at Mawson Park in Hillarys, officers recommended it not be supported but the equipment be moved to an existing shade area and more trees be planted.

Cr Mike Norman foreshadowed an alternate motion to request the policy committee consider adopting a City playground shade policy before making a decision on the petition.

He said councillors had discussed the need to provide more shade over play equipment with concerns not enough trees were planted at some parks but there was ‘no adopted Council position on this matter’.

‘There is a good case to install artificial shade at some of the larger parks with high levels of use, such as Mawson Park, noting the majority of our 230 pieces of play equipment in the City will be adequately shaded in the long-term with existing and newly planted trees,’ he said.

‘It’s about a proper framework so that if we provide shade sails at some locations, it’s not open slather.’

He said planting new trees at Mawson Park would take eight to 10 years to provide adequate shade over the play equipment. Cr Russ Fishwick asked how long it would take the committee to assess a draft policy and have it come back to the council and chief executive Garry Hunt said he thought it would come back ‘early in the new year’.

Mr Pickard said in the meantime, Mawson Park visitors not prepared to be in the sun could use the new nature play equipment that was recently installed ‘under an existing canopy that provides full shade’.

He said it would be appropriate for the City to have a framework to guide decisions on how shade was provided.

‘There are a handful of iconic parks within the City of Joondalup where there is a potential for natural shade to be complemented with some artificial shade but with approximately 250 play spaces across the City, it is simply unsustainable to roll out artificial shade across all equipment,’ he said.

‘Trees have been planted around play equipment across the City and all new and replacement play equipment installations have been located under existing shade trees where possible,’ he said.

‘These measures will always be preferable to expending ratepayer funds on artificial shade; however a framework will provide a broader strategic approach and criteria for determining where and when artificial shade may be considered.’

He said there was also the risk of having to replace shade sails if vandalised.