Belleville residents have their say in Clifford Sonny Belch Park reconstruction


Belleville’s Operations Planning and Development team held a public meeting Wednesday evening, giving residents a chance to choose where – and how – their kids will get to play.

The second phase of reconstruction for Hillcrest Park – now known as Clifford Sonny Belch Park – is underway and moving towards playground construction. Belleville residents are being asked to provide input as the park plans move forward.

Operations Planning and Development Manager Rowland Cave-Browne-Cave, said of the 1,500 surveys sent out, 750 responses were returned. He said was grateful for the many responses from not only the neighbourhood hosting the playground, but also from surrounding community members as well.

“That’s a very high return on surveys in a community of our size,” he said. “So congratulations.”

During the virtual meeting, the 24 attendees were invited to ask questions and discuss two proposed playground designs. These options considered the interests reflected in the surveys, including making play structures accessible while maintaining challenge for children over 12 years old.

While the first option shared new playground designs including a toddler’s market for imaginary play and a net structure for new climbing experiences, the second option won the interest of the participants with 91 per cent preferring its wheelchair-accessible climbing and play structure.

Both options opted for engineered wood fibre instead of rubberized flooring for the playground. Cave-Browne-Cave explained it would save both money and the park’s environmental footprint.

“Rubberized surfaces lead to challenges lasting only 10-12 years before cracking,” he said. “The pirate ship park had it and then it all had to be ripped out with wood fibre put in.”

The playground is only one part of the park’s development, which will include a splash pad, a sledding hill, a skatepark and long-awaited pickleball courts that were supposed to be finished last year. Cave-Browne-Cave said he was frustrated with the process and the contractor has until mid-May to get the courts done before fines would be laid on the contract.

Should the preferred playground be chosen for development, the presenting team, OpenSpace Solutions, said they expect to complete it by July 18. Community members can continue to share their opinions on the park and its trails by contacting Cave-Browne-Cave at

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