Wednesday September 15, 2021 | COLWOOD, BC
by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends
Proudly announced last week by Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin), students at Colwood Elementary will soon be playing on new accessible playgrounds, thanks to $165,000 in provincial funding, along with $2,491,841 in funding for school upgrades and new buses for the district.
“The pandemic restrictions highlighted just how much we need safe outdoor play areas for our children,” said Dean in a news release on September 10.
“Our government is investing in a new playground here at Colwood Elementary that will have important accessibility features to make sure that all kids can take part in healthy and active learning,” she said.
This year, the NDP government is doubling the annual investment to $10 million to deliver 60 new playgrounds in 50 school districts.
Accessible playground funding in SD62:
Sooke School District 62 (SD62) on the growing west shore received $165,000 for the new 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 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.
Almost $2.5 million to SD62:
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.
SD62 has over 12,000 students in 2021-2022 (with 26 schools located in Sooke, Colwood and Langford, which servce families in those communities as well as Highlands, Metchosin, East Sooke, parts of View Royal, and west of Sooke out to Port Renfrew) received $2,491,841 this year for projects which include:
- HVAC upgrades at Spencer Middle
- Building envelope upgrades at Hans Helgesen Elementary
- One new bus
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 BC schools to provide safe, enjoyable, and accessible learning environments.
The BC NDP government has delivered historic levels of funding to BC schools, including $1.2 billion for new and improved schools for BC students in Budget 2021.
SD62: pandemic ‘lingers’ as student count grows (September 7, 2021)
SD62 agreements with municipalities already proving valuable (June 18, 2021)