Shade urgently needed at the new West Epping Park playground
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There was a lot of excitement surrounding the re-opening of the upgraded West Epping Park. But with absolutely no shade over any of the great play equipment, it is sadly unusable most of the time! Of particular concern is the toddler play area, swings and four metal slides (three of which face east and have been burning hot by 10am in autumn). Families have already had to wait years for West Epping Park to re-open Parramatta Council, please don't make us wait for cloudy days or the trees to grow before we can properly enjoy this otherwise fantastic playground!
The fact that we provide shade at bus stops where adults may wait 10-20mins but expect young children and their parents to play and sit out in the full sun for hours defies logic. Families are constantly being encouraged to get outdoors and active with their children but we can only do this in a sunsmart environment. Recent research has highlighted the need to be vigilant about protecting children from the sun, showing that childhood sun exposure, rather than cumulative exposure, increases the risk of basal cell carcinoma in later life.
We understand Council has a policy of planting deciduous trees for shade at small, local playgrounds. But this policy is not appropriate for regional and district sized playgrounds where kids can play for hours - a combination of natural shade and shade cloths is definitely required!
Even with hats, sunscreen and avoiding the hottest part of the day, the playground is just too exposed to the sun to be used safely and comfortably on sunny days. And that is a large part of the year with temperatures regularly into the 30s in autumn and spring, not to mention summer. Plus the new synthetic grass sports fields seems to have made the park hotter overall.
While young trees have been planted, it will be years before they provide any proper shade. It seems such a waste after all the money and time that has gone into upgrading West Epping Park that the playground will sit there empty for a lot of the time. Especially at a time when the number of families in the area is growing and there is more and more demand for (safe) outdoor play spaces.
We call on the City of Parramatta Council to install shade sails over the toddler play area and at least three of the metal slides at the district sized playground in West Epping Park. Plus also review the shade available to spectators of sports matches.
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