Updated: Jul 12, 2019
Surfaces: sand, wood chips.
Equipment by Bel Air Recreational Products (defunct)
There’s not much I like better than discovering hidden parks and playgrounds. Although the playground itself isn’t much, this secret Beaches spot is beautifully hidden, and a nice place to enjoy a little picnic if the crowds at Kew Gardens and Woodbine Beach are making you crave some seclusion.
It feels a bit like Leslieville’s Hideaway Park, in that it’s surrounded on all sides by the backs of houses, and feels more like a shared backyard than a full-on park. The Jeff Sloan playground doesn’t quite provide the play options that Hideaway does, it’s still a nice shady place to play with a toddler. The entrance is off Kingston Road just north of the spot where Dundas comes to an end. There is no signage to indicate the park’s existence from the street, so it really does feel like a secret.
The climber is small, and really only fun for under-3s. A modest amount of shared toys are usually available, and there’s one of those community mini-libraries as well, in case you’re hankering for some VC Andrews or a Windows98 instruction manual.
I went with my daughter when she was still less than two years old, on a beautiful spring morning with no clouds or people to be seen, and it was total bliss. I sat on the edge of the sandbox while she picked dandelions and tried to blow their seeds, even though they were still yellow and completely un-blowable.
As I sat there revelling in a rare moment of parenthood perfection, a truck pulled in that looked like a de-commissioned ambulance, bearing City of Toronto markings. A man got out and started taking photos of the equipment with an iPad.
We got chatting, and it turns out that he employed by the city to check up on playgrounds and see whether they need repairs, a topping-up of wood chips, etc. His territory covers pre-amalgamation Toronto, including East York and York. He said that he and one other guy are responsible for every playground in that area. I had to ask him to clarify that for me, and yes, it’s just two guys. There are over 200 playgrounds in his area of responsibility. He said they get through all of them every two weeks or so. I was completely astounded, and impressed by his obvious passion for the work. It seemed like he could happily continue talking about sand refills and metal fatigue all day…if he didn’t have a dozen other playgrounds to hit before lunch.
I thought I was dedicated to playground culture, but I biked home with a new reverence for city workers like that guy, whose inspections prevent my daughter from flying off swings with loose chains.