Tot Lot Playgrounds

Playground Removal, Replacement, Refurbishment

Hawkbury Close1Did you know that playgrounds in Hawkwood are maintained by the City of Calgary Parks Department?  Parks conducts regular inspections on playgrounds and rates them on a scale of 1 (like new) to 5 (must replace immediately).  The City places that information on-line, and also communicates what these ratings are and what they mean though our Neighbourhood Partnership Coordinator.  In 2014 the HCA was made aware of 4 tot lots that are rated 4/5 (removal imminent) because their condition is considered increasingly unsafe.  The structures – most of which are wood or steel – are not repairable.

The HCA has been working with Parks, and the Ward 2 Councillor’s office to resolve the best possible solutions for Hawkwood playgrounds.  Removal, replacement or repurposing these sites are all options.


Our community is fortunate that Rosanna Law has volunteered her time to act as Playground and Tot Lot Director.  In this capacity Rosanna works with the City, the HCA Board, volunteers, and nearby residents to plan the future of these sites.  There is much to consider:

  • The City does not have the budget to single-handedly replace and maintain all of the structures
  • The HCA does not have the budget to replace all structures
  • Building/Safety rules have dramatically changed since most of the tot lots were built:
    • It is now impossible to replace swing-for-swing and slide-for-slide
    • Mandatory set-backs from obstacles like trees and pathways mean there is less “useable space” in a tot lot’s footprint.  In practice this means we cannot squeeze the same amount or type of equipment into a playground that was there previously.
  • Hawkwood should have spaces for people of all ages (not only young children)
  • Many sites are in close proximity to one another meaning that both cannot justifiably be replaced when there are many other community priorities

Which 4 Playgrounds are we Talking About?

HAW011 – Hawkwood Crescent

The HCA will not coordinate the replacement of the play structures at this location.  This decision was made because HAW011 is reltively close to two other parks including HAW012 which is slated for replacement and will therefore have new equipment.  As described above, there are not enough resources to replace all play structures in Hawkwood.

Having said that, the HCA would like to arrange for the repurposing of this area with a multi-purpose sporting area that might support activities like floor hockey and basketball.

HAW012 – Hawkfield Place

The HCA will work closely with the City to coordinate the replacement of the play structures with modern equipment using the HCA’s AGLC (casino fundraiser) reserve funds, grant money, and private donations.  This decision was made because HAW012 is slightly further from other parks and not replacing it would have left an infrastructure gap.  It is the HCA and City Parks Department’s hope that users of the former HAW011 site will be able to access HAW012 in its absence.

HAW080 – Hawktree Circle


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Once the City removes the play structures the plan is to overhaul the area by naturalizing it.  This is an innovative compromise plan that will provide a number of interesting climbing features (a cool boulder feature), and green space for kids to enjoy, additional sitting space and a mechanism to address the longstanding drainage issue in that space.

As of May 1st 2015: a Sight Line survey has been conducted among residences in the area of HAW080.  Results will be made officially available at a later date.  Initial feedback was overwhelming positive for the naturalization plan given the lack of viable options to replace the equipment due to modern building constraints.

HAW170 – Hawktree Green


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The HCA will work closely with the City to coordinate the replacement of the play structures with modern equipment using the HCA’s AGLC (casino fundraiser) reserve funds, grant money, and private donations.  This decision was made because after HAW080 at Hawktree Circle’s equipment is removed the next nearest park to HAW170 would be 320 meters away.  Further, it is hoped that former users of play structures at HAW080 Hawktree Circle can walk to the HAW170 site at Hawktree Green.


What’s Next?

Community engagement and sight line surveys to determine the future of these parks in consultation with area residents are planned for the Spring and Summer of 2015.  Information on the HCA’s plans for these park spaces will be posted to our website and cited in the Hawk Eye in the coming months.

If you have any ideas or would like to help please contact the Playground and Tot Lot Director (Rosanna Law)


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Frequently Asked Questions

Who decides if play structures are no longer safe?

The City of Calgary Parks Department.

How is this Information Communicated?

The City of Calgary’s website, as well the City communicates the condition of neighbourhood infrastructure to the Hawkwood Communication Association Board on an annual basis, or more frequently as needed.

What is the HCA’s role in Tot Lots & Playgrounds?

The HCA sets the strategic vision for infrastructure like playgrounds in Hawkwood.  Based on community input such as the Our Hawkwood project, the Board makes recommendations to the City on what sort of infrastructure would be most suitable for Hawkwood with respect to our requirements and capacity today and into the future.

Will all Tot Lots be Replaced Over Time?

No.  This is a matter of funding, planning, and construction standards.  The HCA makes it’s best effort to plan which tot lots should be replaced with like-infrastructure, which should be repurposed (ex: naturalized, basketball court, tennis court, etc.) and which should be grassed over and left as community green-spaces.  Hawkwood is fortunate to have a large number of tot lots, and two huge playgrounds at the Elementary schools which the HCA helped construct.  The HCA wants to ensure that a good playground is never very far away, while at the same time it doesn’t make sense to invest entirely in playgrounds, placing them super-close to one another, at the expense of other community infrastructure.

How are Tot Lots Funded?

Funding is typically a partnership between the City and community groups such as the HCA or groups of residents within Hawkwood.  In a typical case the majority of funding comes from the HCA, Residents, and commercial donors, and the City may contribute in-kind labour and services.  In the case of the 4 tot lots in 2015 the City has committed to a contribution of labour & services worth $30,000.

How much does a Tot Lot Cost to Build?

Depending on size and materials used tot lots in Hawkwood have cost between $55,000 – $80,000 in materials and services.  Whenever possible labour has been provided by community minded volunteers.

What Can I do to Help?

Contact a member of the HCA Board, or the Playgrounds and Tot Lots Director for information.  You can also attend an HCA Board Meeting.  Please contact the Secretary in advance so that we can ensure you are placed on the adgenda.