NDP MLA Conroy says Kootenay students will have new accessible playgrounds, school upgrades

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CASTLEGAR – New Democrat MLA Katrine Conroy says students at Burton Elementary and Kinnaird Elementary will soon be playing on new accessible playgrounds, thanks to $165,000 each in provincial funding, along with $1,639,686 in school upgrades in SD20 and $2,118,966 in upgrades in SD8.

“All kids love to play, and under the previous government if parents wanted more accessible playgrounds, they had to raise the funds themselves,” said Katrine Conroy, MLA for Kootenay-West. “I’m glad that our government knows how valuable accessibility is, and I’m looking forward to seeing these new playgrounds at Burton and Kinnaird Elementary.”

This year, New Democrats are doubling the annual investment to $10 million to deliver 60 new playgrounds in 50 school districts. Kootenay-Columbia School District and Arrow Lakes School District each received $165,000 for these new accessible playgrounds, up $40,000 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.

Kootenay-Columbia School District received $1,639,686 this year for projects which include:

  • HVAC upgrades to Rossland Summit School, Stanley Humphries Secondary, Fruitvale Elementary and Kinnaird Elementary
  • Two new school buses

Arrow Lakes School District received $1,639,686 this year for projects including:

  • Exterior wall upgrades at Nakusp Elementary
  • HVAC upgrades at Nakusp Secondary
  • Roofing upgrades and Burton Elementary
  • Three new school buses

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/25321

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