‘We stopped going there a long time ago’: Complaints raised over West Guelph park

Graffiti is scrawled on the seat of this piece of playground equipment at the West End Community Centre. It’s just one of many playground surfaces that have been defaced, some with racist and homophobic slurs, prompting a local resident to call the playground ‘disgusting’ on social media in June 2022.

The city has no plans to replace a seemingly neglected playground in west Guelph that has recently been the target of hate graffiti, but it may decide to remove the playground equipment entirely at a later date.

“The West End Community Center wading pool is due for replacement, and as part of that work, the city assessed the site and identified visibility and access issues,” said Luke Jefferson, park development and amenities manager. city ​​trails, in an email response to a Mercury. Tribune survey. “This play equipment is still usable, but it has the same site condition issues as the splash pad.”

The small playground, which is not visible from either the leisure center or the road, has recently been the subject of complaints expressed via social media.

In a video posted to Twitter, Brian Bailey called the playground “disgusting”, asking “you want the kids to play here?” as he reviewed racist and homophobic slurs scrawled on play equipment.

In response, others joined in bashing the playground.

“We stopped going there a long time ago,” one Twitter user said. “Also super disappointed that they got rid of the splash pad, as it was. It feels like West End Guelph is a forgotten neighborhood for service, but certainly not for taxes.

Another said she hadn’t been back since visiting three years ago and had to leave because of “garbage, broken equipment and general neglect”.

Jefferson said the city’s playgrounds are inspected regularly by staff.

“Anything unsafe or unusable is removed or repaired,” he said.

The West End Playground is along a paved section of footpath beside storm ponds located opposite the Leisure Center on Imperial Road. Currently, many thistles and other weeds dot the mulch that surrounds the play structures. Part of a structure has been replaced with plywood.

The recent graffiti, which included swastikas and racial and homophobic slurs, was removed shortly after being reported via Twitter.

“Additional graffiti was also removed about a month ago,” Jefferson said.

A Guelph Police Department spokesperson confirmed that police are investigating the recent vandalism.

“It is clear that this language and these symbols are deeply offensive to the community and we would like to identify who is responsible,” Scott Tracey, media relations manager for Guelph Police, said in an email.

He asked anyone with information relating to the graffiti to contact Guelph police or Crime Stoppers.

Likewise, Jefferson encouraged anyone who regularly uses the playground to report graffiti or safety concerns to the city through an online portal or by emailing [email protected]

“We will work to remedy this as quickly as possible,” he said.

There are several other playgrounds within walking distance of the West End Community Centre, including those at Deerpath Park and Stephanie Drive Park, southeast of Paisley Road, and playgrounds at Margaret Greene and Earl Brimblecombe Parks, in north of the railway line.

The Recreation Center’s wading pool was the only wading pool west of Hanlon Drive.

City staff are currently considering moving the wading pool to Margaret Greene Park, a site deemed more suitable due to its accessibility, sightlines, parking and proximity to residential neighborhoods, Jefferson said.

“If this site is a viable option, we plan to engage the community and begin design work in the near future,” he said.

As for the playground, he said the site issues associated with it may warrant further consideration to find out if it should remain where it is in the future.

“We’ll probably look at that in more detail as part of the splash work,” he said.

STORY BEHIND THE STORY: A Mercury Tribune reporter noticed the poor condition of the West End Community Center playing field during a site visit. At the same time, concerns about hate graffiti have been raised by locals on social media. The condition of the site prompted the Mercury Tribune to wonder about its future.

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