The BC government has announced an annual fund to build or replace playgrounds at BC schools.
Premier John Horgan says safe, high quality play areas make a real difference in young people’s lives.
“It makes a real difference in their fitness. It makes a real difference to long term health care costs, and it makes an enormous difference to parent advisory councils who spend an inordinate amount of their time focusing on raising money for playgrounds,” said Horgan, speaking at a Victoria elementary school.
The province will provide 5 million dollars a year for playgrounds, with 51 schools getting funding this year.
“This year, 26 schools are receiving $90,000 for a standard playground, and 25 schools are receiving $105,000 for a universally accessible playground,” says a government release.
In the Vernon School District, Mission Hill Elementary will get $90,000 for a standard playground, as will Salmon Arm’s Hillcrest Elementary in the North Okanagan-Shuswap District.
School District 22 Superintendent Joe Rogers says they are very happy with the announcement and incoming funds.
“We believe outdoor play is important for child development and this new playground will play a significant role in that. We also value the work done by our Parent Advisory Committees, and believe this funding will allow them to shift their fundraising efforts to other initiatives.”
Installation of the new playground will begin after consultation with the Mission Hill administration and PAC. It is anticipated that installation will be completed this fall.
In the Central Okanagan District, Peachland Elementary will receive $105,000 for an accessible playground.
“I’ve heard from parents that they need relief from fundraising tens of thousands of dollars for playground equipment – that’s a lot of bake sales and bottle drives for today’s busy parents,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “Today, we’re delivering this fund to help parents, and provide access to communities that don’t have the fundraising capacity to buy the play equipment students need.”
Generally, schools’ parent advisory councils (PACs) have to fundraise large sums of money for new and replacement playground equipment. Schools without that capability are often left without playgrounds.
“This new program will alleviate some of the inequities in parent fundraising, and enable PACs to strengthen their advisory and advocacy roles,” said Jen Mezei, president, B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils. “Parents have advocated for this for over a decade, and we thank the government for the ongoing commitment. We believe that safe and accessible playgrounds should not be dependent on a school community’s ability to raise funds, and for too long have felt the burden to ensure schools and school communities have safe and engaging play spaces.”
Districts applied for the funding in April 2018, and playgrounds are being funded based on greatest need. Priority is given to schools where there is currently no playground, and then to schools where the existing playground is aging. Districts that did not receive funding this year will receive funding next year, if they apply for it.
Photo courtesy of Aviott.org