Meeting of the minds

At a long table, youths and men in uniforms look at photographs and documents.
14 Wing Commander Colonel Mike Adamson (leaning, right) and Captain Mitchell Hargreaves (sitting) present the base’s proposal for a new playground to a group of concerned citizens on August 30, 2018, after the youths wrote to Colonel Adamson earlier in August asking for the return of a playground removed from their neighbourhood. PHOTO: Sara White

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By Sara White

The meeting went a little off track, with reports of a skinned knee, a denied hot tub, and zero hands raised in response to a question from Colonel Mike Adamson, commander of 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia, about participants’ back-to-school excitement. But before that, there was progress on a playground request.

“We made a list,” said one of the youths, passing a sheet of paper across the headquarters conference table on August 30, 2018, to Colonel Adamson and Captain Mitchell Hargreaves, the requirements officer for Real Property Operations at 14 Wing. The meeting came about after 15 youths signed a letter addressed to the wing commander earlier in the month, asking for a new playground in their neighbourhood.

The existing one was removed a year or so ago in poor repair resulting from age and vandalism, and a replacement structure never materialized. The youths signed their letter with just their first names, so Colonel Adamson sent his reply in a letter published in The Aurora, 14 Wing’s base newspaper, asking them to get in touch with his office.

“I’m Mike, and this is Dan [Campbell, the wing chief warrant officer]. I thought this might be something we could address,” Colonel Adamson said, welcoming the youths and a number of their parents to the meeting.

Colonel Adamson described the role of Real Property in ensuring all base construction projects are “something we need, and we have the money for.

“All of us agree, if we had a vote, that we need a playground?”

Captain Hargreaves provided the youths and base officials with folders that included correspondence on the playground project, a title page and administrative notes, and a 3D rendering of a proposed playground.

“You guys are helping us develop the requirements, that what we build is something you need,” he said, adding a certificate to the folders thanking the youths for their role in detailing the requirements. He then reviewed the list.

“A roundabout, a spider web—what’s that?” One youth quickly showed the equipment pictured on her phone screen.

“A tube, a tube slide, a baby slide, a twisty slide, monkey bars, a big ‘O’ swing, a rock wall with ropes.”

“Yes, please!”

“A zip line, a teeter totter, a dome, benches, a beam, a sandbox, lighting for when it gets dark—and I think that is a great idea: it makes it safer, and you can still play at night.”

He congratulated the youth on the thought that went into their playground list.

“We can’t guarantee everything on the list – it depends on what we can do with the money we have.”

Colonel Adamson said the project will likely have a budget “north of $100,000.

“The next thing that comes is timeline,” he said. “We’d really like to start this this fall, but it could be spring. I just want you to know that.”

The commander asked if the youths had thought about where they wanted the playground: where it had been, or perhaps moved to a grassy space near a communal school bus stop, where they could play while they waited and perhaps more accessible to a few more neighbouring streets. He said the project will be left with Real Property to develop and come back with a proposal.

“Thank you for being community-minded,” Colonel Adamson said. “You wrote a letter, not just for yourselves but for others in the community. We’ll take your ideas and give you the best we can.”

Sara White is managing editor of The Aurora newspaper.

Royal Canadian Air Force
14 Wing/CFB Greenwood
Defence infrastructure


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  • At a long table, youths and men in uniforms look at photographs and documents.
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