Little guys and girls, being the principle stakeholders in the welfare of our local parks, should have a major say in the way those playgrounds and parks are run.
That insightful vision was enshrined and enforced in Montreal from 1941 to at least 1962 as kids from each park elected their own mayor, aged usually between 10-12 or so.
In the 1940s about 55,000 kids were eligible to vote in about 100 parks and that total eventually ballooned to 244 in the early 60s.
There were actual elections too. Only a small number won by acclamation, for example 14 of 122 were decided without a vote in 1953.
Montreal's mayor would consult the playground mayors as well, so it wasn't a merely symbolic position either.
An annual session as held where the kids were involved to urge the mayor to add swimming pools and make other tweaks to parks.
It's brilliant idea that needs to be revived. We at Coolopolis have noted the absolute disaster that has resulted in the loss of these voices, as representatives have been cynically sacrificing park space in exchange for the promise of votes without giving any thought to the greater interest.
The ritual also helped the kids learn and participate in the democratic process and showed them that their voices could be heard through that process. McGill's Francine Granner was one of the thousands of kids who served as playground mayors, representing Van Horne Park and considering that there were likely something like 5,000 of these young kids elected, there are undoubtedly many other notables as well.
* Hochelaga Playground Mayor Serge Leonard with Mayor Jean Drapeau 31/7/62
**In 1951 there were 207 playground mayors and Mayor Camilien Houde is seen welcome Patsy McPolland and Ronald McPolland (left) and Robert Levac and Anita Levac (right) representing Richmond Square and Centre Park respectively.