HPRA's Jamie Bell Adventure Playground Initiative

High Park Residents' Association (HPRA)

Jeff D. Derksen, Chair

Destryoed Jamie Bell Playground
Source: Toronto Star

Originally built as a community-led initiative in 1998, the primary feature of the Jamie Bell Adventure Playground in High Park was destroyed by fire in the early morning hours of Saturday, March 17th.

Over 25 members of Landscape Ontario - a sampling of whom appear here - who have been in Toronto exhibiting at Canada Blooms this past week, have pledged to donate playground & landscaping materials, design consultation, and labour.

Pledged donations from these organizations are currently estimated at $300,000 - free to the community and the City of Toronto - with the objectives of:

- respecting Jamie Bell and his compatriots' vision of a natural playground in natural surroundings
- retaining the undamaged playground elements
- implementing improved drainage across the existing site
- engaging the community in envisioning/designing/re-building the Jamie Bell Adventure Playground
- investigating the possibility of new playground elements highly touted by Dr. David Suzuki

Members of the High Park Residents' Association (HPRA) - who participated alongside the late Jamie Bell in realizing both his vision and the value of a natural playground for area children in a natural setting - have stated their support for this initiative.

Area residents were invited to attend two HPRA-hosted community meetings on March 26th and April 2nd, to discuss rebuild options, consider site elements proposed by donors, participate in facilitated design discussions, and decide next steps.

For those on Facebook, join the discussion at Fire In High Park Castle Lets Help To Rebuild

For those with an opinion, express yourself directly to Ward 13 Councillor Sarah Doucette via councillor_doucette@toronto.ca, and cc: executive@highparkra.org so we can document your input

Sign the petition of a concerned citizen at: Mayor Rob Ford - Do Not Delay - Accept Landscape Ontario's Offer


Meet donor organizations

Meet to decide the future


In the late 1990's, beloved High Park neighbour Jamie Bell had a vision of a natural playground for children, in a natural setting.

Jamie Bell, courtesy Swansea.ca
Source: www.swansea.ca

At the time, a small valley inside of High Park, just west of Parkside Drive, offered a modest swing and slide for those who lived around High Park.

Intent on involving residents who shared his passions for community-building and consultation amongst residents - and believing that desirable change was truly possible only at a local level - Jamie sought local volunteers to help him realize his objective.

At the time, there were few playground specialists in North America who offered detailed do-it-yourself plans for truly unique natural playground features.

However, it was even more rare to find the outside expertise necessary to help facilitate discussions which met the community's desire to:
  - begin with resident-provided requirements
  - continue with resident-led design decisions, and
  - implement with resident volunteers

Leathers and Associates of Ithica, New York were brought on board to guide Jamie and the local community through two phases.

The initial phase was performed in 1998, with the multi-storey "castle" installation completed in 1999, on the first anniversary of the initial build.

The Castle
Source: Steve Harris via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license

High Park Residents' Association (HPRA)