2.5.1 Outdoor Play Spaces

Download a printable version of this section
The Requirements in this Section apply to:
Government of Ontario, Legislative Assembly, and Designated Public Sector Organizations Private / Not-for-Profit Sector Organizations
Large Small
Yes Yes N/A

The requirements in this Section are performance-based, outlining a minimum level of accessibility. This approach provides organizations with the flexibility to address local community needs, spatial parameters and budget considerations. Organizations have the flexibility to design play spaces that are creative, fun and provide challenges for children of all ages and abilities.


The requirements of this Section apply to newly constructed and redeveloped play spaces that an organization intends to maintain. The requirements of this section do not apply to small private or not-for-profit sector organizations.

Consultation Requirements for the Design of Outdoor Play Spaces

Before developing a new outdoor play space or redeveloping an existing one, obligated organizations are required to consult with the public and people with disabilities on the needs of children and their caregivers with a variety of disabilities. Municipalities must also consult with their accessibility advisory committee if they have one.

The consultation process must address requirements for accessible play elements for children and caregivers with various disabilities including, but not limited to, sensory and active play components.

A toolkit is available through the Rick Hansen Foundation titled “Let's Play: Creating Inclusive Play Spaces for Children with Physical Disabilities”, which provides examples of better practice in design and consultation.

Another resource, available from the Ontario Parks Association, is the Playability Tool Kit: Building Accessible Playspaces, which provides guidelines for planning and action, technical data, case studies, and other innovative ideas.

Another excellent resource for the design of inclusive play areas is a standard from the Canadian Standards Association, CAN/CSA-Z614-07 (R2012) - Children’s Playspaces and Equipment - particularly Annex H, “Children’s playspaces and equipment that are accessible to persons with disabilities”.

Requirements for Outdoor Play Spaces

Accessibility features
Incorporate accessibility features, such as sensory and active play components, into the design of outdoor play spaces. These should address the needs of children and caregivers with various disabilities.
Firm and stable, with characteristics to reduce impact and injuries. Note that the impactattenuating surface is required for the play space itself, but not the surrounding area or the paths/ walkways to the play space.
Provide sufficient clearance throughout the play space so that children and caregivers with various disabilities can move through, in and around the outdoor play space.

Better Practice Considerations

Seating areas
Consider providing at least one accessible seating area so that a caregiver with a disability can comfortably observe their child.
Path of travel
Consider providing accessible routes that are at least 1,500 mm wide, connecting the playground with access elements such as sidewalks and parking lots. Providing accessible pathways will also help children and caregivers with disabilities move into the play areas and between play equipment. Refer to Section 2.1.1 Sidewalks and Walkways for further information on the design of accessible walkways.
Play elements
Consider both natural and manufactured play elements that create opportunities for children to interact with nature. Elements that stimulate all senses such as water features, sand play areas, scented plantings and wind chimes can provide a more enriching experience. When using manufactured play components, consider referring to Appendix H of CAN/CSA-Z614-07 (R2012) for guidance.
Consider designing play elements that can be enjoyed by all children. Avoid creating segregated facilities specifically for children with disabilities.
Consider using a variety of ground surface materials to provide a more diverse sensory experience for children of all abilities. Note also that impact attenuating doesn’t have to mean poured in place rubber; impact attenuation can also be achieved using sand, wood chips/bark mulch, engineered wood fibre, or recycled rubber chips.


Illustrated Technical Guide to the Design of Public Spaces