In downtown Joburg, what was once a dumping site is now a welcome green lung that is attracting more and more inner city residents. There was little by way of outdoor entertainment before the park was opened, but now folk use the space for play, relaxation and exercise.Park

More and more people from all walks of life are using Metro Park, opened on 19 September 2014, as a space to breathe, play, relax, and gather.

Metro Park, to the south of Nelson Mandela Bridge in Newtown, is a welcoming green space in the inner city. It gives residents of the concrete jungle an open-air recreational and social place to spend time.

Palesa Kgao, a student who lives in Braamfontein, says the park has given her a place where she can be in contact with nature, relax and be away from the city environment. “I have always viewed green environments as good places to relax and socialise. I use Metro Park as a place to enjoy my lunch breaks and to socialise with my friends from school,” Kgao explains.

The park is a gathering place for families and social groups, as well as for individuals of all ages and economic status.

Thabang Ndlovu, a technician, says the park has been beneficial to the community and is a safe area. It is near his flat, and he is able to spend quality time with his four-year-old daughter there. “Before the opening of the park, I did not have a nearby place to go and spend time with my daughter. I have found the park to be a peaceful place for me to take my daughter out for some play time.”

The Johannesburg Development Agency and Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo spearheaded the development of Metro Park. The organisations spent R13-million on converting what was once a dumping ground into a green lung in downtown Joburg.

On midweek afternoons and on weekends, children play in the playground and on the indoor soccer courts. With its outdoor gym, Metro Park also promotes public health. An increasing number of residents are using the gym for exercise, to increase their fitness and trim their body weight.

The park aligns with one of the JDA’s most ambitious and wide-ranging strategies, Corridors of Freedom. It does this by helping to create a liveable city that provides good quality of life for residents, with dignified recreational and leisure spaces.