NDP MLA Babchuk says North Island students will have new accessible playgrounds, school upgrades

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CAMPBELL RIVER – New Democrat MLA Michele Babchuk says students at Georgia Park Elementary and Ray Watkins Elementary will soon be playing on new accessible playgrounds, thanks to $330,000 in provincial funding, along with $4,332,097 in upgrades for School Districts #72, 84 and 85,

“Having a quality, accessible local playground is a game changer for families. This funding means parents will have the peace of mind that their kids are able to learn and grow on safe and accessible equipment, and local PAC groups can focus their fundraising efforts on priorities that reflect the urgent and distinct needs of their students and communities.”

This year, New Democrats are doubling the annual investment to $10 million to deliver 60 new playgrounds in 50 school districts. The Campbell River and Vancouver Island West School Districts received $165,000 each for these new accessible playgrounds, up $40,000 per playground from previous years. This increase will allow the playgrounds to be designed with accessible features like ground cover, ramps and/or transfer platforms that connect to the play structure – to ensure there’s a place for all students to play. The playgrounds will be built over the next year and are expected to be ready for kids to play on by early 2022.

Playgrounds help kids stay active outdoors while learning to share, build conflict resolution skills and overcome challenges. Playing outside reduces anxiety and improves focus, helping kids to learn in the classroom.

This funding comes from the Playground Equipment Program (PEP), created in 2018 to reduce the burden of fundraising on parents and help communities buy the playground equipment students need. Since 2018, the New Democrat government has invested $25 million to fund 201 new playgrounds at schools throughout the province, benefiting more than 49,000 students.

Students will also benefit from upgraded and more energy-efficient learning environments, with $240.5 million in school maintenance grants distributed across the province this year.

The Campbell River School District is receiving $1,758,344 for upgrades including:

  • Roofing upgrades at Penfield Elementary
  • HVAC upgrades at Carihi Secondary
  • Three new buses

The Vancouver Island West School District is receiving $1,305,000 for upgrades including:

  • Exterior wall systems and electrical upgrades at Kyuquot Elementary-Secondary
  • Energy system upgrades at Captain Meares Elementary-Secondary
  • LED lighting upgrades at Zeballos Elementary-Secondary

The Vancouver Island North School District is receiving $1,268,753 for upgrades including:

  • Interior upgrades at Port Hardy Secondary
  • LED lighting upgrades at North Island Secondary

Annual facilities maintenance grants have also supported school districts to plan and budget for upgrades and maintenance to school ventilation as students return to class. These investments are a part of the province’s commitment to update infrastructure in B.C. schools to provide safe, enjoyable, and accessible learning environments. The New Democrat government has delivered historic levels of funding to B.C. schools, including $1.2 billion for new and improved schools for B.C. students in Budget 2021.​​

Learn More

Playgrounds: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021EDUC0074-001766

School maintenance grants: https://news.gov.bc.ca/24466