Middle schools to get playgrounds

Both Campbell River middle schools will receive playgrounds funded by the province while some elementary schools struggle to fill a need for new equipment for their students.

Both Campbell River middle schools will receive playgrounds funded by the province while some elementary schools struggle to fill a need for new equipment for their students.

Phoenix and Southgate schools will each get a $50,000 grant as part of the province’s one-time $8 million commitment to provide 44 new playgrounds and playground updates for schools across B.C.

“We were very happy with the announcement that the provincial government made and right now we’re in the process of creating what those playground structures will look like,” said Peter Neale, secretary-treasurer for School District 72.

Premier Christy Clark announced Sept. 2 that those schools which do not have a playground will be given first priority. Phoenix and Southgate fit that bill.

Meanwhile, a handful of local elementary schools are desperately in need of new playground equipment.

At Discovery Passage school, the small Parent Advisory Council (PAC) – which has always been tasked with providing school playgrounds – has been struggling to fundraise for a new playground after the old one was taken down by the school district for safety reasons.

Without the old playground, there is nowhere for the younger students to play.

“The kids need to play outside but there’s not enough room for them now,” Jessica Taylor, treasurer for the school’s PAC, said at the time. She was disappointed to hear the two middle schools would be receiving playgrounds while the Discovery Passage PAC has been fighting an uphill battle for a new playground since last February.

But the PAC may receive some help from the province.

The Ministry of Education plans to reimburse schools that had playgrounds built in 2011. Neale said Discovery Passage school – along with Sandowne, Oyster River and Ecole des Deux Mondes – is one of those that may be eligible for reimbursement. Any money remaining after the 44 new playgrounds are built and PACs are reimbursed, will go towards upgrading or replacing equipment at existing public school playgrounds.

“Based on feed back from the school and the PACs we identified the top three priorities,” said Neale. Those are: Discovery Passage, Sayward and Cedar schools. Neale said he is hopeful the playgrounds at Phoenix and Southgate will be completed sometime before the end of this school year, but construction is weather dependent.