A dream playground

By Vivian Collings

It’s been a couple of months since writing about poverty in the Highlands in one of my editorials.
With the launch of the fundraising campaign to build a new playground in Head Lake Park, it feels like a good time to bring up the “elephant in the County” again.
Money is a difficult subject to talk about. It’s simultaneously keeping our society from crumbling while also wreaking havoc on the humans living on it.
It’s the reason why some get the luxury of living in multiple homes while others worry about how they’ll pay rent for one more month, let alone the rest of their lives.
It’s the reason why businesses fall apart and businesses succeed.
It’s the shared commodity that we all trade for goods or services, but it’s certainly not shared equally, and is usually not shared at all.
The new playground in the centre of Head Lake Park will cost a lot of money.
The committee has been able to secure over half of the funds needed from grants and generous donations, but the remaining amount to raise is still fairly significant, which is why they are hoping for more generous donors to come forward.
I’d imagine some Dysart residents may be thinking this is just an expensive construction of plastic, metal, and wood, and it may deter them from wanting to share their own money for the project. Physically, yes, it is a construction of plastic, metal, and wood, but it’s also much more than that.
Setting aside the economic benefits to Haliburton tourism for now, I’d like to focus in on the benefit to local families and children specifically.
According to the Statistics Canada 2021 census for Haliburton County, over half of the population makes less than the liveable rate for the area.
Over half of the nearly 18,500 permanent Haliburton County residents have a household income of less than $40,000 a year.
That means many likely struggle to pay bills and put healthy meals on the table.
Being able to take their family on a trip or even enrolling their children in extracurricular activities isn’t in the picture at all.
This is where talking about money becomes hard.
Yes, the playground costs a lot of money. Yes, that amount of money could help people in many other ways. But, I think where it’s going is so important.
I have vivid memories of my childhood playing at the old Head Lake Park playground. When I think of being a kid and living close to Haliburton, I think about that park.
I loved that park. The best day of the week was the day when my parents would say, “After dinner, we’re going to go play in the park.”
As a kid, I didn’t think about the stores, buildings, trees, or roads in town. I thought about the park.
And that’s something every child living in this area should have memories of for the rest of their lives, too.
A public playground is a place that removes the socioeconomic lines for children and families.
It’s a place for kids to be kids, no matter how much money their parents have in their bank accounts.
It’s a place to gather, learn, and forget about life’s difficulties just for a while.
This park is going to last 20 to 30 years. It would’ve been a dream for me to get to play on it as a kid.
Yes, it’s a lot of money. But it is going towards something for thousands of children to build memories on for the next two decades.