You’ve seen them: the green sheds that mysteriously appear in nearly every community park across Edmonton each June—bringing kids crafts, sports and good cheer—only to disappear in September. If only these “Green Shacks,” a collaboration between the City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues (EFCL), operated year-round. Well, that could soon be the case.
Thanks to a 2015 pilot project they’ve extended the free recreational programming of eight shacks, including Oliver’s, well into the winter months. According to Cara Rose, a municipal recreation programs manager, the winter activities come as a part of Edmonton’s long-term vision to animate local community playgrounds year-round, and encourage children to appreciate the outdoors even in the colder months. That’s why you may have noticed kids frolicking at Oliver Park during 2016’s first snowfall.
City officials who coordinate the Green Shacks Program—which boasts about 275,000 visits a year—worked with leagues to determine the best places for winter programming. They considered factors like the child population of each area, past attendance and how much access to recreational programming each neighbourhood had already. “The City works very hard to ensure we are meeting the needs in a neighbourhood and providing varied and accessible recreational opportunities for families,” explains Sheila Muxlow, a community relations coordinator with the City.
In addition to regular programming, such as free-for-all dodgeball, painting and hide-and-seek, Green Shack coordinators had the chance this year to focus on winter-based activities like tobogganing, outdoor cooking and educational games. The fun took place during those chilly, darkening afternoons, but focused on light. For instance, kids had an opportunity to enjoy stargazing and then learn about diferent constellations around a warm fire. As Oliver Green Shack coordinator Ezra Comeau puts it, “Good programming can’t be restrained by weather. Children will always find a way to play in any conditions, and this winter programming gives children a perfect outlet for activity during our longest season of the year.”
The City is currently in the second year of its three-year budget programming, ending in early 2018. Oliver’s Green Shack can be found in Oliver Park (118 St. and 103 Ave.) from June till August, then again through October and November. For hours and activities, or to find another Green Shack near you go to efcl.org/2016-green-shacks.