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William Burgess PS

Updated: Jul 12, 2019

Equipment by Bienenstock.

Surfaces: Wood chips, sand, surf, asphalt.

A 2015 renovation gave William Burgess PS one of the more visually interesting school playgrounds on the east side, even if it’s not mind-blowing.

The design is by Bienenstock, whose work we’ve discussed before, and it’s typical of their natural, landscapey style. A central mound, accessible by gentle slope on one side and climbing-wall holds on the other, is crowned by a toppled tree, and features two small-but-fun slides. A small sand area has large, pencil crayon-like poles coming out of the ground, which look very nice, even if they don’t really do anything.

It’s a nice playground, and certainly a nice change from the typical 30-year-old climbers with 60 years’ worth of use that you normally find at Toronto’s public schools. One slight problem though is that while the equipment is a bit boring for kids over 6, it’s a bit dangerous for kids under 3. Not seriously dangerous or anything, but the drop-off on one side of the mound (where the climbing holds are) is pretty high, and dim-witted (or even medium-witted) toddlers can comfortably climb up the sloped slide before plummeting off the edge.

I went once when my son was about 2, and I watched him clamber up the sloping mound, thinking to myself how strong and independent he was, and how it was all thanks to my superior parenting. Then I realized he was heading for the slide. Certain that I couldn’t get up there fast enough to stop him going down, and knowing that a verbal signal would probably make him MORE likely to head for the slide, I bolted around the mound to try to be there and catch him.

I was too slow. He went down headfirst and got a mouthful of wood chips for his efforts.

Anyway, I don’t hold the manufacturer at fault for my poor running skills or lack of alertness. But I have noticed that on more recent visits, my son tired of this place pretty quickly. Or maybe he just felt bad about hurting himself and putting a dent in my reputation as a superior parent.

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