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'Terrifying': Daycares discovering needles, weapons in Central Park

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Inner city daycares that don't have their own outdoor space, rely on Winnipeg’s Central Park, so children can get out and play.

One of those childcare facilities is Niigaanaki Day Care Centre. Lois Coward is the Executive Director.

"They love running, you know, testing their bodies for what risky play they can do especially in the snow," said Coward

But there are real risks in the park.

Coward said they bring the kids to Central Park daily, but they have a routine before the children are allowed to step foot in the park.

"We're getting them to sit down and we do a security check first."

They take that extra precaution because they're finding dangerous items all the time, like broken glass, used needles, weapons, and ammunition.

"Terrifying, absolutely terrifying,” said Coward. “It’s almost become, we're complacent to it that we just have to do it every time, and it's just been accelerating what we're finding.”

Despite their best efforts, they don't always catch everything that's stuck in the ground, under a bench or hidden by the play structure. Other nearby daycares are also dealing with these dangers.

Coun. Cindy Gilroy is calling for regular inspections.

"I want them to say, 'First thing in the morning we're going out to these parks,'" said Gilroy.

Gilroy has a motion asking for city staff to comb inner city parks every day for hazards. She said right now responses are complaint-based.

"What we're finding is machetes, knives and stuff that are often left here from people that have slept overnight."

Coward said this is a good first step and hopes something can be done for the kids.

"This is their only play space when they're living in an apartment building,” said Coward. “If parents don’t feel comfortable coming outside because of who's here or what they're finding, then that's not fair."  

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