Chilliwack – New Democrat MLAs Dan Coulter and Kelli Paddon say students at East Chilliwack Elementary will soon be playing on new accessible playground, thanks to $165,000 in provincial funding, along with over $3.4 million in funding for school upgrades and new buses for Chilliwack and Chilliwack-Kent.
“It is so important that all children feel included, whether it be in the classroom or on the playground,” said Dan Coulter, MLA for Chilliwack. “As the Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility, as well as a former trustee and education board Chair here in Chilliwack, I’m happy to see our government putting such meaningful and overdue investments into schools to make sure that all kids get the most out of them.”
This year, New Democrats are doubling the annual investment to $10 million to deliver 60 new playgrounds in 50 school districts. The Chilliwack school district (#33) received $165,000 for each 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 is expected to be ready for kids to play on by early 2022.
“The pandemic has been difficult for all of us, including our children who have been missing their regular social and school lives for over a year now,” said Kelli Paddon, MLA for Chilliwack-Kent. “These accessible playgrounds, carbon emission-reducing upgrades, and new school busses coming to our districts are going to make the return to normal that much sweeter for kids, parents and educators.”
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 Chilliwack school district (#33) received $2,243,469 this year for projects which include:
- HVAC upgrades at Integrated Arts & Technology and Mount Slesse Middle school.
- Energy systems upgrades at Greendale Elementary
- Three new buses for the district
The Fraser-Cascade school district (#78) received $1,190,000 this year for projects which include:
- Electrical, LED lighting, and energy systems upgrades at Harrison Hot Springs Elementary
- Roofing upgrades at Kent Elementary
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.