Snowfall delays playground removal

Students at Discovery Passage Elementary School will have to look at the red tape and warning gates surrounding their playground for at least another week.

Students at Discovery Passage Elementary School will have to look at the red tape and warning gates surrounding their playground for at least another week.

The playground equipment was supposed to be removed last Friday but snow early that morning forced the school district to postpone the take down.

“All available personnel and equipment were performing snow and ice control and there was quite a bit of snow on the ground, making site conditions very unfavourable for removal,” said Steve Woods, manager of operations for school district 72.

Now the district is not sure when the old playground equipment will be taken down. The original date was a professional development day, so students would not be at school to see their playground removed.

“Our manager of operations is in the process of making arrangements to re-schedule, but no date has been set as of yet,” said Jennifer Patrick, spokesperson for School District 72. “I anticipate that we will have a re-scheduled date following discussions with the lead hands (of the project) on Thursday (Feb. 24) of this week.”

The district closed off the playground the first week of February, citing safety concerns with rotting wood.

The school’s Parent Advisory Council (PAC) is faced with having to replace the playground because the school district’s budget is not large enough to fund playgrounds.

Unfortunately for the PAC, the school district’s decision couldn’t have come at a worse time. In November, the small, four-person PAC purchased a $10,000 addition to the playground which took the PAC seven years to fundraise for.

Jessica Taylor, PAC treasurer, said it would have bought something different if members had known the old playground would be taken down, because the new equipment is geared towards older students, leaving small children, including all of next year’s new kindergarten students, with nothing to play on. Taylor said the way things stand, it would take the PAC 10 to 15 years to purchase a decent playground.

“It’s pretty upsetting,” said Taylor. “There’s new kindergarteners coming in September and we’re not going to have a playground for them – there’s no way we can fundraise that much in such a short period of time.”

Taylor said she wants people to be aware that it is the school’s volunteers, the PAC, that are responsible for providing students with a playground and eventually other schools in the district will be in the same boat. Jim Ansell, assistant superintendent of schools, said there are no plans to take down any other school playgrounds but added it is a constant cycle of putting up playgrounds and then replacing them because nearly all older playgrounds are made of wood is vulnerable to rot and decay as it ages.