WATCH: Bake sales, and ticket raffles are the fundraising staples of parents advisory committees. At most schools, parents use the money to replace and rebuild playgrounds. But an announcement today means the province, not parents, will fund the equipment. Mary Griffin reports.
B.C. Premier John Horgan announced Tuesday that the government will be investing $5 million to build playgrounds for 51 schools across the province.
“We are going to be spending five million dollars this year, and every year to provide state of the art playgrounds right across British Columbia,” Horgan said while standing at the playground at Victoria’s Quadra Elementary School.
This year 26 schools will receive $90,000 for standard playgrounds, while 25 schools will get $105,000 for playgrounds more accessible for students of all abilities.
Quadra Elementary School principal, Marilyn Campbell, said there is a student at the school who will benefit from a new, accessible playground.
“She never comes to the back part of the school because she can’t play on the playground. But with this new playground, it’ll be right up her alley, and I know she’ll really enjoy it,” Campbell said.
The following schools on Vancouver Island and the Southern Gulf Island’s will receive the higher amount of funding, $105,000:
- Quadra Elementary in Victoria
- Poirier Elementary in Sooke
- Georgia Avenue Elementary in Nanaimo,
- Courtenay Elementary
- Mill Bay Elementary in Cobble Hill
- Fort Rupert Elementary in Port Hardy
While the following will receive the $90,000 funding for the standard playgrounds:
- Saturna Island Elementary
- Cedar Elementary in Campbell River
- Kyuquot Elementary/Secondary
“All students deserve quality, safe and accessible playgrounds at school, regardless of how much their parents can fundraise,” said Premier Horgan. “That’s why we’re lifting the burden off of parents by investing $5 million today, and every year moving forward, to build playgrounds where they are needed most.”
It’s a break for parents who fund raise, sometimes for years, for new playgrounds often with bake sales, and raffle sales.
Jen Wezei is with the B.C. Federation of Parent Advisory Committees.
“What this does for families, hard-working parent advisory councils. Some of whom I know from experience, fundraise for seven, eight, nine even ten years to replace something so basic as a playground,” Wezei said.
As for students, they just want everyone to be included. Grade five student Andrew Janz said he wants to see everyone playing on the equipment.
“I’m really happy that we are getting a new playground, and that all students will be able to use it. When I was younger, I used to use these playgrounds a lot. And I remember some people weren’t able to use them. It’s great that nobody is excluded from having fun on the playground,” Janz said.
Districts applied to the province for funding in April. Districts with no playground were given priority, followed by districts with aging playgrounds.
The funding is part of the new Playground Equipment Program that will provide up to $5 million each year to school districts to buy new or replacement playground equipment.
The province says that usually, parent advisory councils (PACs) would have to fundraise large sums of money to replace playground equipment.
A full list of all the schools that will receive funding for the new play surfaces can be found here.