Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Browning Park Playground- Saanich

We haven't been this excited about a playground in ages! Every time we drive up Shelbourne Street during the last two years we have looked over towards Browning Park and laughed at the old old little playground hidden in the long grass. I've always meant to visit there, fully expecting to give it a poor quality review as the type of playground where a child might need a tetanus jab. But those who snooze, lose. Because recently I was driving up Shelbourne, glanced over and almost crashed my car in excitement. Because not only was there a brand-spanking-new playground being built, but the entire park, which frankly had been overgrown and nondescript, was dug up and being redeveloped.

Kudos to the CRD and Saanich here because this is part of the Bowker Creek development project and if this part of Bowker Creek turns out as nicely as, or even nicer than the Oak Bay part then it will be a wonderful place for locals. And even in it's current unfinished state, it's looking amazing. Thanksgiving weekend finally gave us the opportunity to visit the playground and let's just say that when we tried to leave the kids kicked up a big fuss!

Located on Shelbourne Street and accessible from there or from either side of Browning St or from the Bowker Creek pathway that runs on the far side of the Creek, this lovely new park has smooth tarmac trails, a basketball court and a fantastic playground. Parking might be available on Browning St, but this is more the type of park that you walk or ride bikes to, and stop off at for a picnic. It looks like there will be nicely landscaped gardens and grassy areas but for now it's a bit of a mess with dirt and diggers- which hold their own attraction for little ones.

The playground has two main climbing structures, a small one for little kids and a big one for the bigger kids. The small one features various climbing options to a low tower and a double metal short straight slide. There is a double big kid, double toddler swing combo, a climbing frame car, a twiddly stem, and a rock feature for climbing over, under and across.

The larger climbing frame is the most exciting part of this playground according to my kids and my now 4 year old 'A' as the best climbing frame ever. It's a treehouse, and if I had my way this would be known as the treehouse playground- which it may well if it doesn't get called the frog park, but that's a different story. The treehouse climbing frame is built into a tree, and features several routes up which include a 'rope ladder', tree stumps, and tree climbing to the clubhouse up top. There is a long straight metal side down. It's beautifully made, fits in to the environment subtly and has great little touches such as a raccoon and squirrel hidden underneath.

So...the frog. Lastly, but not least, there is a giant frog squatting in the middle of the woodchip base in this playground. Oddly enough, my kids steered a clear path around it and my daughter definitely thought it was real. So whatever the local kids end up calling this fantastic playground, my betting is that it'll be between the frog and the treehouse and that the rest of this wonderful park, the creek and the bike trails will be forgotten in the playground excitement!

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