© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2021

Forgotten playgrounds leave parents concerned

Daniel Perese
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Sullivan Park  Daniel Perese

Christchurch parents are calling on Council to work on playgrounds in the residential Red Zone, saying they’re not being kept up to safe standards.

Much of the area around Christchurch's Avon River was deemed unliveable following the 2011 earthquakes, with the area becoming what's now known as the residential Red Zone. While thousands of houses and many roads are no longer there, several playgrounds remain, but in poor condition.  

While some are overgrown with weeds or fungi, others are missing key elements like ladders and slides, creating a fall risk for children wanting to play.

Local father, Matthew Sherwood, is disappointed Christchurch City Council has continued to spend money maintaining other elements of the red zone, like regularly mowing lawns and installing (then uninstalling) fencing, but not taken care of the playgrounds and parks.

Sherwood points out two playgrounds within his whānau's regular walking area, one being Avonside's Sullivan Park and the other, Dallington's Halberg Reserve. 

"It is hard when your kid sees a playground and wants to go play on it and you say no you can't ... They don't understand it's broken and how it got broken."

Sherwood wants the Christchurch City Council to repair or remove the playgrounds which are not safe for children to use. 

Another local parent, who wants to stay anonymous, claims to have seen drugs and empty alcohol bottles hidden inside of the often broken playground equipment.

They said the areas have become a hub for anti-social behaviour at night time so they no longer allow their kids to play in or near them. 

This parent agrees the playgrounds to be removed, adding they do not want Council to rebuild a new one unless the area can be properly monitored. 

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Sullivan Park 09/09/2021 Daniel Perese

Councillor for the Central ward, Jake McLellan, was unaware he had any red zoned playgrounds within his ward until he was contacted by Metro News.

While the playgrounds aren’t part of the red zone plan, Cr. McLellan said it's something he'll look into it further. That said, McLellan believes it's unlikely Council would want to spend money repairing or dismantling a playground.

In the past, local playgroups have asked to take over use of the play equipment from the playgrounds, but their requests were rejected. 

Christchurch City Council's Community parks manager, Al Hardy, said some of the equipment was dismantled and utilised in other park playgrounds after the 2011 quakes.

“The remaining equipment was made safe and left for possible future repurposing. As there are now plans to relocate the playground, Council staff will remove the rest of the equipment and place it in storage.”

Hardy wasn't able to provide details on the plans or timeframe for any proposed relocations. 

Hardy states there are monthly inspections in some parks, including Halberg Reserve, and all are considered up to Council's health and safety regulations.