North Delta’s McCloskey Elementary will be getting a brand new playground, thanks to funding from the provincial government.
Education Minister Rob Fleming announced today (March 15) that the province is spending $5 million to provide new playgrounds for 50 schools in 34 districts, including 30 “universally accessible playgrounds.” The funding comes via the ministry’s playground equipment program, which was launched last May, and McCloskey will be getting $105,000 to upgrade its aging equipment.
Michelle Roth, McCloskey parent advisory committee treasurer, told the Reporter the school has been struggling to fundraise for a playground upgrade for years and said the provincial funds are an “amazing” investment in communities.
Roth said the wooden structures at the school’s playground are scheduled to be torn down this year, so the money is welcome.
“It’s rotting and we can’t keep it,” Roth said. “So it will just be gravel. We have kids that are in wheelchairs or have extra needs. We would love to offer them more than what we currently have, which is pretty much nothing.”
In order to replace the McCloskey playground, she said, the school will need a “bare minimum” of $60,000, adding most playgrounds cost upwards of $100,000. She said the PAC is still looking at what equipment the school needs and is consulting with Chalmers Elementary, which also received $105,000 from the province for a new playground last year.
“They had some challenges [and] some success with their process, so we’re going to network with some other schools that have done their playground installations and see what companies were the best,” Roth said.
The new funding comes after the provincial government similarly invested $5 million to build 51 playgrounds last year. North Delta’s Chalmers Elementary was one of 25 schools selected to receive $105,000 towards a universally accessible playground. Another 26 schools received $90,000 each for standard playground equipment.
With the new funding on the way, Roth expects her PAC colleagues to spur on the selection process for new equipment.
“The head person that we’ve put in place to help oversee the playground is actually a staff member at the school and a parent of a student at the school, so she is in a unique position to advise us from an educated point of view which equipment would be better.”
In a press release, Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon said outdoor play is a crucial part of kids’ learning and development and it is important to have “safe, open, and accessible” spaces available for them.
“For too long, kids’ access to quality playgrounds at school has been dependent on parents’ ability to fundraise. This funding helps to break down that barrier,” Kahlon said.
The playgrounds will be built over the next six months and are expected to be ready for kids to play on in fall 2019.