North Delta’s Chalmers Elementary will be getting a new playground thanks to an influx of funds from the provincial government.
On Tuesday, May 8, Premier John Horgan and Minister of Education Rob Fleming announced the government’s new Playground Equipment Program, which will provide up top $5 million annually to school districts to buy or replace playground equipment.
Chalmers is one of 25 schools selected to receive $105,000 towards a universally accessible playground. Another 26 schools are receiving $90,000 each for standard playground equipment.
The funding is intended to take pressure off schools’ parent advisory councils, who are typically responsible for raising funds for new or replacement playground equipment themselves.
“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,” Fleming said in a release to media. “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.”
According to a press release from the provincial government, school 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.
Parents at Chalmers began fundraising to replace the older of the school’s two playgrounds more than two years ago. The hope was to eventually raise enough to qualify for the city’s community initiated cost sharing program, whereby Delta would contribute 50 per cent of the replacement cost to a maximum of $35,000.
The need became more immediate when a portion of the newer playground structure was destroyed by fire in the early hours of Aug. 9, 2017. Investigators deemed the blaze suspicious.
“Parents already lead such busy lives, and having to fundraise tens of thousands of dollars for school playgrounds adds to the stress,” Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon said in a press release. “Today’s investment will help relieve some stress for parents at Chalmers Elementary, and provide students with a quality, safe, and accessible new playground to be enjoyed for years to come.”