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'Amazing opportunities': Inclusive playground coming to city park

New space at Painswick Park will be named Muriel and A.J. Billes Family Playground in honour of Canadian Tire Corporation’s founding family
MAY 2022-05-18 Painswick Park
Painswick Park in south-end Barrie is shown in a file photo.

In celebration of Canadian Tire’s 100th anniversary, Canadian Tire’s nearly 500 store owners across the country are funding the development of the largest Jumpstart Inclusive Playground to date in partnership with Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities (Jumpstart) and the City of Barrie. 

The new inclusive play space will be named the Muriel and A.J. Billes Family Playground in honour of Canadian Tire Corporation’s founding family. It will be built in Painswick Park as part of Jumpstart’s Inclusive Play Project, which focuses on removing accessibility barriers to sport and play.

At over 21,000 square feet, the playground will host a variety of imaginative and inclusive features that accommodate sensory, physical, and cognitive disabilities, enabling kids of all abilities to play side-by-side. A 3D rendering of the Muriel and A.J. Billes Family Playground can be seen here

“On behalf of our 500 associate dealers, the Canadian Tire Dealers’ Association (CTDA) is honoured to present the Muriel and A.J. Billes Family Playground to the City of Barrie as a tribute to the Billes family and Martha Billes, specifically, as the founder of Jumpstart, which has given over three million kids access to sport and play since 2005,” said Doug Waldie, president of the CTDA. “Everything about this playground is special, starting with its location in south Barrie, which, in addition to being a significant place for the Billes family, is a community that will benefit from having access to this inclusive play space.”

“We’re grateful to the Canadian Tire Dealers’ Association and Jumpstart in helping establish this project in our community and being able to provide a safe and inclusive space for children to play,” said Alex Nuttall, mayor of Barrie. “It’s crucial to ensure that everyone feels included, and this new playground provides amazing opportunities for kids of all abilities to play together.”

“The Muriel and A.J. Billes Family Playground was made possible thanks to the generous contributions of the Canadian Tire Dealers’ Association,” said Marco Di Buono, president of Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities. “We are proud to honour and advance Martha’s vision, creating an inclusive playground that enables all members of the community to experience the power of play, regardless of age or ability.”

“Jumpstart and the CTDA’s generous contributions complement the park improvements the city started earlier this summer, allowing us to build out a robust, accessible park in south-east Barrie that keeps all residents active and healthy at all stages of life,” said Sergio Morales, councillor of Ward 9.

Already a community hub for recreation, Painswick Park is home to baseball, soccer, and tennis facilities and is currently being redeveloped by the City of Barrie to add pickleball courts, among other improvements. Construction of the Muriel and A.J. Billes Family Playground and the other enhancements at Painswick Park are expected to be complete in the summer of 2023.