Adventure and Nature Playground

Concept Image

Playground concept image4

The Town of Banff has planned a new playground at the Recreation Grounds, and it’s not the typical playground from the past.

The new playground is scheduled for development in 2023, replacing the aging play features beside the washrooms on Birch Avenue and near the new Nancy Pauw Bridge. The playground will be nearly double in area and offer play elements for a wider range of ages, with features specially for toddlers 1 to 5 years old, and adventure play features for ages 6 to 12.

The playground will include common features like slides and swings, but it incorporates the latest research in nurturing creative, cognitive and social development through play. Natural elements, such as logs, rocks, and trees are incorporated into the play areas, enhancing the harmony with our mountain community in the national park, while offering different types of play needed for childhood development.

The overall design of site the components, landscape layout and site amenities of the playground align with many accessibility principals,  like the Americans with Disabilities Act and Universal Design. Within the current design, 100% of the landscape layout and 60% of the play components are accessible.

This new amenity was identified in the process that created the Banff Recreation Grounds Redevelopment Plan (PDF) in 2015. That plan incorporates a common theme gathered in the public consultation process: “replace and expand the existing playground with a nature and adventure play area for a wider range of age groups.” A strong majority of participants in the consultation supported the development of this new type of natural and adventure playground.

Elements used in planning the expanded and updated playground:

  • Safety, health and well-being needs for children
  • Evidence-based research into how children play and features benefits for development
  • Encourage observation through the act of exploration and discovery
  • Provide an engaging, fun, unique play experience for the range of ages
  • Leave structures and forms open to imaginative interpretation and open-ended play
  • Parent feedback
  • Need for durable, low-maintenance materials and fabrication methods resilient to our environment
  • Embody timeless sense of aesthetic and an authentic expression of Banff, rather than relying on stereotypical icons that could become outdated
  • Create year-round opportunities with seasonal elements that avoid wildlife entanglement and incorporate mitigations for wildlife movement
  • Environmental requirements in a national park and Parks Canada regulations

We welcome any feedback or questions on this preliminary design. Please email Colin Harris, recreation initiative coordinator, at

Area Timeline:

  • 2015 – Recreation Grounds Redevelopment Plan
  • 2017-18 – Skatepark, picnic tables, second greenhouse
  • 2019-21 – new north nature playground, Rundle cabin relocation, dog park
  • 2022
    • Playground RFP for design awarded to Calgary-based Heavy in October
    • Design feedback from Parks Canada, Town of Banff and community incorporated into final design by mid-December
  • 2023 – Construction has begun. Construction completion targeted for late fall

Old Playground Equipment
The playground pieces that were removed at the Rec Grounds are being sent to Belize as part of an Emmanual Foundation shipping project. Learn more at

What is an Emmanuel Foundation Shipping Project?
Emmanuel Foundation collects goods that aid in the sustainable transformation of a community, and ships this inventory anywhere in the world where people would not otherwise have access to these goods and items. This includes resources such as medical equipment for hospitals, dental, and health clinics, educational supplies to strengthen schools, as well as clothing for the poor, orphanages, and relief areas. Over 20 projects for international development are completed each year.