NDP MLAs say New West students will have new accessible playground, school upgrades

NEW WESTMINSTER – New Democrat MLAs Jennifer Whiteside and Aman Singh say students at Herbert Spencer Elementary will soon be playing on a new accessible playground, thanks to $165,000 in provincial funding, along with $1,658,000 in funding for school upgrades for two other schools in the district.

“We cannot underestimate the vital link between play and learning,” said Whiteside, Minister of Education and MLA for New Westminster. “Students are more focused in-class when outdoor play is part of their school routine, and they learn important life skills like cooperation and patience while improving their major motor skills.”

This year, New Democrats are doubling the annual investment to $10 million to deliver 60 new playgrounds in 50 school districts. The New Westminster School District received $165,000 for an accessible playground, up $40,000 from previous years. This increase will allow the playground 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.

“Parents should not have to bear the burden of fundraising for outdoor play equipment,” said Aman Singh, MLA for Richmond-Queensborough. “That’s why New Democrats created a dedicated playground fund so parents can spend less time on fundraising, and more time playing with their kids.”

This funding comes from the Playground Equipment Program (PEP), created in 2018 to reduce the burden of fundraising on parents and help communities that don’t have the fundraising capacity to 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 New Westminster School District received $1,658,000 this year for projects which include:

  • Exterior wall systems at Lord Tweedsmuir Elementary School
  • Energy systems upgrades at Queensborough Middle 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/25321

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