NDP MLA Osborne says Pacific Rim students will have new accessible playgrounds, school upgrades

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PORT ALBERNI – New Democrat MLA Josie Osborne says students at Ucluelet Elementary and John Howitt Elementary will soon be playing on new accessible playgrounds, thanks to $165,000 each in provincial funding, along with $1,158,000 in school upgrades in School District #70.

“The past year has shown us just how important it is to have access to quality, outdoor play spaces, not only for kids, but for the overall health of families,” Josie Osborne, MLA for Mid Island –Pacific Rim. “That’s why this year we doubled the playground fund our government created so school communities have access to consistent funding for the playgrounds that kids need.”

This year, New Democrats are doubling the annual investment to $10 million to deliver 60 new playgrounds in 50 school districts. The Pacific Rim School District received $330,000 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 Pacific Rim School District received $1,158,000 this year for projects which include HVAC upgrades at Bamfield Community School, Eric J Dunn Elementary School, and Wickaninnish Community School.

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