Maffeo Sutton Playground Improvements - PHASE 1

The City of Nanaimo, Children's Health Foundation of Vancouver Island, Nanaimo Child Development Centre, Tire Stewardship BC and other community organizations partnered to increase inclusive play spaces at one of Nanaimo's most popular destination playground. Just opened on June 19, 2020 is the Maffeo Sutton Inclusive Playground. This playground is:

 -available for children and people of all ages and abilities

-socially and physically inclusive

-respectful of a sense of place while promoting active play

-comfortable to use

-an inclusive play space for our community

The newly installed equipment is inclusive for all members of our community, but it will also help to improve motor, cognitive and social skills through active play. 

The playground has improved safety surfacing. The pea gravel was replaced with wood fibre while the play structures are surrounded with a rubber surfacing (through Tire Stewardship BC) allowing those with mobility challenges easier and improved access throughout the area.

Another exciting feature of the playground includes one-of-a-kind First Nations art pieces created by local artist Noel Brown. Through his art and the design of the space a story unfolds that depicts life along the Millstone River with Coho salmon as some of the characters. 


  • Progress

    Phase 1 (New Year to May June 2020): 

    Adding improvements that are

    -available for children and people of all ages and abilities

    -socially and physically inclusive

    -respectful of a sense of place while promoting active play

    -comfortable to use

    -an inclusive space space for our community

  • Documents
  • Details
    • Maffeo Sutton Park is one of Nanaimo’s premier destination parks that has historical and cultural significance in the community.
    • The park is home to over 200 special events each year providing a variety of opportunities for recreation, social interaction and health and wellness.
    • The Maffeo Sutton Park Playground was last updated in 1999 and much of the equipment was reaching end of life.
    • In 2017 there were a number of playgrounds throughout Nanaimo identified as being inaccessible to many children with mobility issues. Following this, Maffeo Sutton Park Playground was identified as a priority project through collaboration with groups within the community. These groups include:
      • Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island
      • Nanaimo Childhood Development Centre
      • Tire Stewardship BC
      • Nanaimo Association for Community Living
      • Rotary Club of Nanaimo
      • Seniors Connect Nanaimo
      • Pacific Sport Vancouver Island
    • In early 2019 the City received a substantial donation from the Children’s Health Foundation and Child Development Centre for a Super Netplex Tower (play equipment) provided by Landscape Structures to be integrated into the overall design of a new inclusive and accessible playground.
    • The City worked with a local First Nation’s artist to help integrate First Nation art into this project that tells a story and significance of the area.
    • Habitat Systems along with sub-consulting landscape architects have been retained by the City to develop an overall design of the playground space.
    • The entire playground will be upgraded in a multi-phased approach, and it is the City’s intention to complete phase 2 by 2023.
  • Background

    In 2015, Scott Bradford, Executive Director at that time, of the Nanaimo Child Development Centre - started spearheading the concept of a socially inclusive park and doing preliminary research.

    Scott brought together a number of individuals and organizations who were passionate about ensuring people of all ages and abilities can gather and play freely together. The group called itself the Socially Inclusive Park Partnership (SIPP). Partners included the City of Nanaimo, Nanaimo Child Development Centre, Nanaimo Association for Community Living, Rotary Clubs of Nanaimo & Lantzville, and Pacificsport.

    The SIPP group envisioned the play space at Maffeo Sutton Park as a destination place for families, children, visitors and residents that embraces people of all ages and abilities. As they indicated at the time this vision connects three of the City of Nanaimo’s strategic pillars: economic health, social equity, and cultural vitality. The vision was a gathering place for children and adults to play and engage with their natural surroundings in a safe, inclusive space that was accessible to all.

    Other benefits they identified was that this project will benefit the entire community, well beyond the children. Mobility challenged adults will be able to swing and engage in active play with their children. Grandparents can feel confident with stable ground surfaces and adults with developmental delays can play as well. Inclusion drives engagement, connects people and builds community.

    The Children's Health Foundation of Vancouver Island became part of this project in 2018. In 2018 NCDC was successful in accessing a grant from the Children's Health Foundation for $100,000 for this project.

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