With a pledge of $105,000 from the B.C. government, Gabriola Elementary School’s playground will become easier to access for all users.
Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is one of 34 school districts receiving money from the government’s playground equipment program, and according to a press release, the playground equipment is expected to be ready for this fall.
Rob Hoban, Gabriola Elementary principal, said it is welcome news and there is always a need for playgrounds that everyone can use. He said there aren’t a lot of other playgrounds on Gabriola and the school’s sees a lot of use.
“We do have kids with mobility challenges and elementary schools, it always changes from year-to-year and we have families that move in that we don’t know are coming to us until they’re here,” said Hoban. “An accessible playground is actually good for all and in this way we’re not trying to make up an accessible playground for a kid after they’ve shown up here.”
Dale Burgos, school district spokesman, said the money is the result of the district’s five-year capital plan submitted to the province last June.
“Now that the funding is in place, that’s when the planning begins,” said Burgos. “So there hasn’t really been any particular dates set or equipment, or anything of that nature. What’s going to happen now is the local community with the school, with our facilities department, they’re going to start having this conversation and some consultations and figure out how this accessible playground is going to look and timelines and so on and so forth.”
Charlene McKay, Nanaimo school board chairwoman and former district parent advisory council president, said she is pleased to see money for playgrounds.
“For a long time that didn’t happen at all and it always relied on a school’s ability to fundraise and so to see funds being put into playgrounds, especially in smaller communities like Gabriola is a really great move … having more access to recreational opportunities is fantastic news for them,” said McKay.
Hoban said he will be meeting with district staff on April 12 to discuss details.