WAYS to drag children away from the allure of computer games and TV and encourage them to play outdoors will be just one part of a new Orange City Council strategy to set the future direction of play facilities in town.
Environment and economic development committee chair Cr Kevin Duffy said the community would be able to give input into the strategy on the Facebook page set up by council and during the public exhibition period expected to start in April.
He said he would wait and see what the public wanted before saying if he believed Orange needed more playgrounds.
“We want to increase kids’ skills and hand-eye co-ordination and we’re also looking at the demand of the city, the age groups of kids and what’s needed,” he said.
“We also want to reinforce and review safety inspections and maintenance of all areas and the access.”
Parks presentation manager Nigel Hobden said the play strategy would provide guidelines to council on how they could best provide play facilities for Orange and would go beyond playground equipment alone.
“We’re looking at a range of different play attributes ... for instance the wetlands,” he said. “They have the opportunity for informal play amongst them with kids playing in the creek lines.”
While Mr Hobden acknowledged environmental and informal play could be less safe he said it could teach children about risk taking.
“Playground equipment is covered by an Australian standard so we’re fairly well guided in that respect but for environmental and informal play there is no particular standard but we’d definitely look at minimising risk,” he said.
Mr Hobden said existing facilities like a boardwalk at the Ploughmans Wetlands and bushland areas around Orange were already popular play areas for children.
“Children play among the rocks and try yabbying,” he said.
“We’re reaching out further than off-the-shelf equipment that gets plonked into a park.”
Mr Hobden said the strategy would build on an independent study of the city’s 29 playgrounds to ensure the equipment was not the same at every park.
With the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data showing the zero to four age group as the city’s fastest growing, Mr Hobden said the data would be used to look at the demographics of specific areas across the city and whether they were well served by play areas.
“We do know we’re missing some of the new residential areas,” he said.
The strategy will also categorise the city’s playgrounds into three levels: regional like the Adventure Playground, district like Elephant Park, and neighbourhood like Sir Neville Howse Park.
To have your say on the city’s play areas, ‘like’ the Orange City Play Strategy 2013 page on Facebook to receive updates and answer questions from the council.