BY ANDREW SMITH
MONKTON – One service club, three days, six kids, and whole lot of volunteers have revitalized Monkton’s playground in partnership with TVOntario.
The Monkton playground was alive with activity on Friday, Oct. 11, for the official unveiling of the renovated park, courtesy of a partnership between the Monkton Kinsmen and TVO’s Giver 2 program. Kristen McGregor, producer with Sinking Ships Entertainment, said over 200 applications were received for the second season of the popular show that transforms community parks, but that Monkton originally didn’t make the cut. A shift in scheduling for the show created an opening, and Monkton was the first one on the pile McGregor said. With only three weeks available to plan the project, there was some rapid communication between the Monkton Kinsmen and the Municipality of North Perth.
“They were so open and so supportive, it was really neat to see what can happen in three weeks,” she said. “When you think about what happens with municipalities sometimes it takes forever, but we were able to get it together and get it done.”
Monkton Kinsmen member Bill Young had his own doubts to the quick turnaround of the project, but looking at the finished result on Friday, he was satisfied with everybody’s hard work.
“It was a lot in a short time, but it all came through,” he said. “We’re pretty happy.”
Agriculture was chosen as the new theme of the park, which McGregor said was decided as the TVO crew toured the small community of Monkton.
“We noticed how important agriculture is to the area, and we as a show have always wanted to do a farm park but never found the right fit,” McGregor said. “We finally did here and it was fantastic.”
See TVO, page 3
It was also a lesson in agriculture for the Toronto-based television crew, McGregor said, learning such important things as how to milk a cow, and the difference between hay and straw.
“The experiences you can get in the country are very interesting,” she said. “It’s been neat to have a bunch of city people out on the farm.”
The project has also highlighted the community spirit of Monkton, McGregor said, with everybody eager to lend a hand.
“Everybody’s got a brother with a tractor and an uncle with a dump truck, we’ve got a whole range of things ready to go,” she said. “The amount of support that’s been with us in Monkton is wonderful.”
Young said there were about 15-20 volunteers at any one time during the three days of construction, with many coming back for every day.
“Some were here for a couple hours, some were here for days,” he said. “We were here from about 6:30 in the morning until 10 or 11 at night.”
The project came with a total budget of $11,000, with $10,000 from TVO and a $1,000 contribution from the Monkton Kinsmen. Michael Lagimodiere, host of Giver 2, said that although the community of Monkton is small in numbers, it is deep in resources.
“If you think about what this would take to get through city council in Toronto, it would take forever and the cost of it would be immense,” he said.
Monkton’s park is the 23rd park that the Giver team has completed over two seasons, with each park getting bigger than the last, Lagimodiere said.
“We have been on sort of an exponential growth with our parks, they’re getting bigger and more complicated every time,” he said. “This would represent the upper edge of how far we can push it in three days.”
North Perth Mayor Julie Behrns attended the grand re-opening of the park, saying that the agriculture theme reflects what the municipality is all about and gives the community something to be proud of for years to come.
“This is an excellent day for the children, I know they have a sense of pride in what they have done,” Behrns said. “There’s no better way to develop relationships of giving back to the community than being part of something.”
At the centre of all the attention was the team of Giver kids; Zoey Boyd, Emma Francis, Colton Quipp, James Patterson, Mary Fizell and Brycen Tummers. Fizell said she was excited to be chosen for the filming of the show and the construction, but realized the responsibility of the project.
“I was a bit nervous knowing that if we didn’t like what we’d done, we’d have to live with it every day because it’s the only park in Monkton,” she said.
Fizell had her own input on the park, suggesting the Pig Pen sandbox when the original sand for the park was replaced with wood chips.
“I know how little kids love the park, and especially the sand,” she said.
Paterson said his favourite part of the project was the new tractor structure.
“My dad was one of the main builders for it and I just like spending time with him,” he said.
Paterson hopes the new park gives families a new reason to spend time in Monkton, in addition to all the other activities the community already enjoys.
“A lot of people already come here for hockey and figure skating, but they don’t really play in the park,” he said. “Now I think they will.”