NDP MLA says Vernon students will have new accessible playground, school upgrades

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VERNON – New Democrat MLA Harwinder Sandhu says students at Ellison Elementary will soon be playing on a new accessible playground, thanks to $165,000 in provincial funding, along with over four million in funding for school upgrades and new buses for the district.

“As a parent, I know how important it is for kids to have safe, accessible places to play outside with their friends,” said Harwinder Sandhu, MLA for Vernon-Monashee. “Our New Democrat government is providing funding for new playgrounds like this one so parents can do less fundraising for equipment and spend more time with their kids.”

This year, New Democrats are doubling the annual investment to $10 million to deliver 60 new playgrounds in 50 school districts. The Vernon School District received $165,000 for this new accessible playground, 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 playground 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 Vernon School District received $4,062,434 this year for projects which include:

  • HVAC upgrades at Charles Bloom Secondary
  • Roofing upgrades at Ellison Elementary
  • HVAC upgrades at Clarence Fulton Elementary
  • Building envelope upgrades at Lavington Elementary
  • Five new school buses for the district, including two electric 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