The recent announcement that Kingston’s longstanding Playtrium on Days Road would be closing its doors for good as of August 31 has brought back fond memories for many, but also a prevailing sense of worry that families of young children are rapidly losing options in town.
“After several decades of being Kingston’s best spot for kids and families, Playtrium will be permanently closing on August 31 at 5pm. We would like to thank all of the great kids and parents that have come through our doors over the years. A special thank you to all of our staff over the years as well. Drop in this month and make one more lasting memory,” Playtrium posted on its Facebook page on Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, a post which garnered over 360 comments throughout the week.
Reaction on reddit and Facebook to the news has included a number of community members pointing out that kid-oriented businesses in Kingston have been dropping like flies this year.
Residents pointed to the previous closures of downtown’s VR Hut, Kingston Family Fun World, and Putt N’ Blast as more proof that family hangout spots are disappearing from the area.
One reddit user called Playtrium’s closure a “nail in the coffin” for family fun in Kingston.
“I can see the reason they’re closing after all this but it really is a nail in the coffin for families and young people growing up in Kingston as it takes away another safe legal space for them to hangout and play,” user Phillstaf posted.
Another user was less surprised, saying the location had previously been on its’ “last legs” but adding that Kingston “prides itself as being a tourist destination but seems to only cater towards tourists without kids”.
An employee at Playtrium said the business’ owner had previous plans to close or sell, but that process was accelerated by COVID.
Councillor Gary Oosterhoff of Countryside District said it’s obviously been a difficult year for businesses, but that Council has tried to keep options available for families.
“I don’t think the City can do anything specifically,” he said.
“We have a family mindset on council, too, to keep the pools going and everything we can do to help families.”
Bridget Doherty, Councillor for the Portsmouth District, said the City has tried to do what they can to help support businesses, but they, too, have been stretched thin by COVID.
“Everybody in Council and staff want to be able to help businesses survive, but we have pretty tough decisions to make because we’ve also been majorly impacted,” Doherty said.
She added that outside of the loss of life, children and businesses have bore the brunt of COVID.
Doherty pointed to libraries reopening allowing free and affordable programming to return, as well as a number of outdoor amenities. saying there is a ton do for kids “when the sun shines.”
It’s unclear what the future may hold for kid-focused businesses in Kingston, but for now, outdoor activities appear to be the best option.
This article was originally written by Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter.