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Calls to re-establish Children’s Safety Village in London, Ont.


For over two decades, the Children's Safety Village was a staple of hands-on education run out of the Fanshawe Conservation Area.

“Absolutely a wonderful opportunity, an amazing opportunity for that hands-on, touch and feel approach that I believe is so critical to any learning, I mean, especially for youth,” said David Hodgins, who was the Fire Chief when the village opened in 2001, and had a road named after him in the village.

Hodgins said he is dismayed at the village's demise, “I was shocked. And actually, after it sunk in, I was very much outraged to learn that this what happened.”

At one time, thousands of children would come through the village every year. But declining attendance, and eventually the COVID-19 pandemic, led to the Safety Village Board to dissolve.

Operation of the village did not return following the pandemic.

Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) area’s Coordinator Damian Schofield explained, “What it came down to is the board of directors that looked after the Children's Safety Village, their lease came to an end. “

Out of the downfall of the Children’s Safety Village rose a different partnership.

“What was nice that has come from that is the YMCA and the Upper Thames Region Conservation Authority have stayed in partnership. Programs are continuing, which is really, I think, a positive way of looking at it,” said Dave Newnham, vice president of Camping, Outdoor Education for YMCA Southwestern Ontario.

Summer camp programs continue at the conservation area, albeit in a different location, but UTRCA is looking at how it can re-invent the former Safety Village, according to Schofield

“We haven't really settled on a definite solution or an answer to that question. But there are a number of ideas and possibilities being discussed,” he said.

Hodgins said the programming saved lives, and believes all levels of government should step in to recreate what he considers an essential learning experience for kids.

“I really believe that the federal government, the provincial government, the municipal government, all need to step up and put money back into this children's safety village and rejuvenated and rebuild it,” said Hodgins.

While no decision has been made on the future of the former site, work on the area will happen over the summer to make it more accessible. Top Stories

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