More funds needed for Haliburton’s Head Lake playground

Photo courtesy of Dysart et al

Sometimes it takes a village, and Dysart et al council is relying on exactly that as it looks to replace playground equipment at Head Lake Park. 

Council agreed to commit up to $300,000 towards the purchase of a new jungle gym following a discussion July 26, although CAO Tamara Wilbee said that only covers a fraction of the cost. “What we’ve heard so far is it can go anywhere from $250,000 to well over $1 million for a similar-sized structure for what we’re looking to replace,” Wilbee said. 

The township’s recreation coordinator, Andrea Mueller, asked for $200,000 in her report, but that number was upped after councillors Walt McKechnie and Nancy Wood-Roberts spoke of the importance of “making sure the project is done right.” 

The balance of the funds, Mueller noted, will have to come from other sources. 

The township has, thus far, been unsuccessful in getting any grants. Mayor Andrea Roberts said there has been interest from some area residents to contribute, and that staff should investigate a broader community fundraising campaign. 

“We want to do something that’s going to last for many, many years. This is an important piece of equipment for our community and our visitors… We are going to be looking for members of the public to support this,” Roberts said. 

The old playground equipment was removed in June due to safety concerns, with it no longer meeting CSA standards. 

Mueller noted it was used by up to 100 children daily during the spring, summer and fall. A replacement won’t be installed until spring 2023 at the earliest. Mueller said most companies are indicating it will take 12 to 14 weeks minimum to manufacture a structure once purchased. 

It won’t be a like-for-like substitute, with staff and council favouring a more naturalbased playground, designed with wood rather than metal and plastic. 

“The idea is it may encourage more imaginative play and it also fits in really well with the environment given the history of Haliburton and how there were many saw mills here. The idea of using trees… is appealing,” Mueller said. “These are playgrounds that can progress [and be used] by children from [the age of] two to 12 years old and up.” 

Mueller said these natural structures require more upfront maintenance – increasing the initial cost – but last longer. 

“Some natural playgrounds have up to a 25-year lifespan,” Mueller said. “With plastic and metal equipment, there’s a lot more wear and tear. Pieces are harder to replace. We ran into that issue with the old playground – it was only 10 to 15 years old, but it had to be removed because we couldn’t find the parts to fix it.” 

Anyone interested in contributing to the project should contact Mueller at amueller@