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Degrassi Street Park

Updated: Jul 16, 2021

Surfaces: grass, sand, wood chips.

I’m not convinced that this playground deserves the rating I’m giving it, but because I grew up in Toronto in the 80s and 90s, it’s virtually impossible for me to dislike anything with the name “Degrassi” in it.

When my wife and I were house-hunting, I would go to open houses on Degrassi even if the place on offer was a complete dump, because I couldn’t resist the possibility of living among the ghosts of Snake, Wheels, Caitlyn, and Joey. And if you don’t know who those people are, you might not be this website’s target demographic.

But anyway, this playground is fine. A recent neighbourhood petition prompted the city to fence it in, which is nice, and there’s some good shade at the end with the picnic tables.

Most of the equipment is pretty straightforward, straight out of the Kompan discount bin, but there is one exception: a big geodesic rope climber from a company that is a subsidiary of Henderson with the ominous name BERLINER SEILFABRIK. It sounds, and looks, like something out of industrial, von Bismark-era Germany. Which, in fact, it is; they’ve been around since 1865, and advertise themselves as a leader in “rope technology.”

Ever since our son was 2, he’s been an avid climber, and I have to say that when he scampered up this German contraption, my heart was in my throat. I was sitting on a bench at the park’s edge while my wife spotted. But the thing is, it’s kind of hard to spot with any kind of efficiency once your kid is a couple of metres up the structure, because it tapers towards the top, meaning that if a kid falls, they’re going to fall into the structure, limbs bouncing from rope to rope as if they’re stuck in a 3-dimensional Plinko machine.

Well, our son lost his foothold and ended up hanging from his tiny hands, just out of reach of my wife’s outstretched arms, before falling into the web of rope below.

He was fine, of course, other than being a bit scared. It actually made me realize that these structures are safer than they look, because you can’t really fall too far before the ropes grab you. And of course, I fully recognize that if our son had been injured, my wife and I would have been to blame – after all, we were allowing a 2-year-old to climb on something rated for kids far older than that.

But hey, a little danger is what makes a playground fun, right? If the Degrassi series taught me anything, it’s that growing up isn’t easy. Sometimes life throws you a curve, like a vicious German climbing structure, and you’ve just got to face it.

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