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Park playbins return to Calgary this season to offer a better way to play

As the summer season is right around the corner, the City of Calgary once again debuts a way for kids to play in outdoor green spaces.

The city has reintroduced playbins, a free and accessible way for children and their families to play, from spring to fall. Playbins are stationed at various community green spaces and contain a variety of recreational equipment, such as sports balls and velcro tossing games.

Playbins were first introduced two years ago. Habi Fares, a program coordinator at the City of Calgary, spearheaded this project and its implementation.

“The feedback from the communities is amazing. People are really loving it so far,” he said.

“They’re having fun being outside and getting to know their neighbours. That’s the reason we are doing this. We want to give these communities a chance to connect with each other.”

Peter Frazier, a resident in south Calgary has started to visit the playbins more often with his children this year.

“It’s been super fun. The kids love playing in the park and we love connecting with other families here,” he said.

“It really feels like the city cares about its parks and the people who attend them.”

Residents can access the playbins by following the instructions on the bin. They can also access it by calling 311. Doing either of these will allow them to get an access code, which is used to open the bin.

Upkeep and security

Playbins and their maintenance are funded through various grants. Calgary staff also go out to these playbins to ensure proper upkeep.

Security may also be an issue, as items can go missing quite easily.

Fares believes that the benefits of these playbins trump the cost of replacing stolen items.

“We have run into situations where we had quite a few pieces go missing from one of the bins. We refilled it and then we didn’t have an issue with it after that. Hopefully, those are being used and enjoyed by people,” he said.

“It’s unfortunate that it’s not a part of the community box anymore, but it does happen. There’s no way to really prevent it, but the value of the program vastly outweighs the loss of a few items.”

Playbins were originally made to support communities, and so the city has partnered up with various community associations to help with upkeep and track attendance.

“Our initial way of tracking attendance would be through the 311 number and through our staff that visit. We now also have community associations to help us there too,” he said.

“They can’t give us exact numbers, but the estimates are good enough. It’s another way in which we can connect with the local communities.”

For those interested in more information, please visit the City of Calgary website.