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Barbara Hall Park

Equipment by Kompan, Vortex.

Surface: rubber.

I’m a bit torn about this one.

It has some of the ingredients of a “hidden gem” in that it’s located in a very busy area, but tucked away behind the streetscape, and provides a pleasantly surprising bit of green space in a downtown neighbourhood. And that neighbourhood – the Church / Wellesley Village – is a vibrant one, with plenty of shops and cafes and things to do.

However, the park itself is often frequented by some pretty troubled people, and some parents might not be comfortable bringing their kids here. There were one or two fairly obviously intoxicated folks on the other side of the fence that circles the playground, and I overheard a few shouting matches and some colourful language. The fencing did make all that seem separate from the playground area, and by no means did we ever feel threatened, but it would still probably be too close for some parents’ comfort.

But anyway, my kids didn’t seem to notice or care. They had a great time in the splash pad and on the modest play equipment.

We spent a happy hour alternating between soaking ourselves in the splash pad and drying off on the spinning elements of the Kompan playground. We also enjoyed the pigeons, who would come drink the puddles of water when the splash pad timed out, only to be surprised every time it started up again, much to our amusement.

On a side note, we’ve now visited all five playgrounds found in parks named after a former Toronto mayor; the others are June Rowlands, Art Eggleton, David Crombie, and Allan Gardens. All very different, and all pretty good. So if you’re a municipal politics nerd with kids…you’ve got homework.

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