The District of Saanich has swapped out playground sand for wheelchair-friendly wood chips in dozens of its parks and plans to do the same in Layritz Park, Brydon Park, Gorge Waterway Park, Mount Douglas Park, Hyacinth Park, Normandy Park and Allenby Park in 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)

The District of Saanich has swapped out playground sand for wheelchair-friendly wood chips in dozens of its parks and plans to do the same in Layritz Park, Brydon Park, Gorge Waterway Park, Mount Douglas Park, Hyacinth Park, Normandy Park and Allenby Park in 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)

Saanich playgrounds’ sand base to be replaced with wheelchair-friendly wood chips

Braefoot Park among dozens of parks to receive wood chips for increased safety, accessibility

Braefoot Park is next in a series of playgrounds across Saanich to have its sand swapped out for engineered wood chips that create a surface that’s wheelchair-friendly and provides better cushioning in the event of a fall.

In the past, playgrounds were typically surrounded by sand or gravel. However, the materials aren’t accessible to all, their abrasive quality degrades the equipment faster and they often become an unofficial litter box for neighbourhood cats, explained Gary Darrah, Saanich’s manager of parks planning and development.

READ ALSO: Accessible equipment, new looping paths among upgrades planned for Saanich Park

Over the past several years, the district’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department has been in the process of swapping out the sand in playgrounds for engineered wood fibre surfacing to increase safety and accessibility, he said.

Most other municipalities have also been making the swap to wood chips as it’s become best practice over the years, he explained, adding that the City of Victoria was the first in the region to begin using wood chips about 15 years ago.

In Saanich, the change to wood chips typically coincides with complete playground renovations and equipment replacements, Darrah said. Play structures have a lifespan of about 20 years so they’re constantly being updated, and most modern play equipment requires a larger safety zone so the playgrounds must be expanded. At this time, the old sand is removed, new structures are installed and then the area is filled in with wood chips.

Top-ups are also done every few years because the material gets stamped down, he said, adding that the supplier will return to add more and “fluff it up a bit.”

READ ALSO: Saanich locks down playgrounds after video of busy park goes viral

A few dozen parks in Saanich – including Reynolds Park and Horner Park – have already received wood chips. The playground in Braefoot Park is next on the list as it is currently undergoing a minor equipment replacement.

Many more parks in the district are slated to have their sand swapped for wood chips in 2021 including Layritz Park, Brydon Park, Gorge Waterway Park, Mount Douglas Park and Hyacinth Park.

Darrah noted that Normandy Park and Allenby Park will also be undergoing full replacements this year and the work will include wood chip infill. Saanich has also begun adding concrete ramps to its parks to further increase accessibility.

To learn more about Saanich’s playground projects, visit

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

parksSaanich Police Department

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rachna Singh, MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers, is the Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives. (Photo courtesy of
A micro brewery is being eyed for Jordan River. However, the site where the brewery is proposed still needs to go through the rezoning process. (Black Press Media file)
Micro brewery proposed for Jordan River

Jordan River Brewing Company envisions to build wholesale, sit-in brewery along Highway 14

Traffic waits at the intersection of Highway 17 and Beacon Avenue. A study found failing levels of service at the intersection of Highway 17 and Sidney’s Beacon Avenue for multiple movements during morning peak traffic and for all left-moving traffic during afternoon peak traffic. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Province supports potential interim improvements to Sidney intersection

Province says interchange is the long-term plan for intersection of Beacon Avenue and Highway 17

Oak Bay local Lachlan Kratz (red, middle) has signed with pro rugby team NOLO Gold in Louisiana. (Contributed photo)
Oak Bay local signs with pro rugby team

Lachlan Kratz at 21 is now NOLO Gold’s youngest member

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

Most Read