Georgia Avenue school gets $105,000 for new accessible playground. STOCK PHOTO

Georgia Avenue gets money for new accessible playground

Province announces dollars for playgrounds at 51 B.C. schools

There will be no barriers to play at Georgia Avenue Elementary.

A new accessible playground is planned for the school, which will get $105,000 from the provincial government for equipment.

The premier announced Tuesday money for new playgrounds at 51 schools across B.C. as a way to take pressure off of parents.

Generally schools’ parent advisory councils fundraise for playgrounds, but the dollars are part of an ongoing playground equipment program that will provide up to $5 million annually to school districts to buy new, or replace playground equipment, a government press release says.

Premier John Horgan said in the release that all students deserve quality, safe and accessible playgrounds at school, regardless of how much their parents can fundraise, which is why the province is “lifting the burden off of parents by investing $5 million today and every year moving forward.”

RELATED: B.C. invests $5M for new school playground equipment

Nanaimo school trustee Bill Robinson, who has offered to help with the Georgia Avenue playground, called the funding a huge start.

“Without it, I don’t think we’d be starting for a while; we’d have a bunch of fundraising to do,” he said. “You kick off with $105,000, it’s going to motivate us to find the little more money in the budget and we’ll be creative, we’ll have something we can be proud of and with the PACs working together, we’ll be more than proud in a few years.”

The government’s contribution, along with money from Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools, will see the playground built.

Robinson told the News Bulletin he’s also suggested to district staff that he, along with Georgia Avenue’s PAC and McGirr Elementary’s PAC – which fundraised $400,000 for its accessible playground – work together to raise money for any extra equipment.

Georgia Avenue now has a life skills program, which moved from Rutherford Elementary last year, and Robinson said the playground is not appropriate. He also said there are a lot of kids in the Georgia Avenue area that could use the playground after school, and that the elementary has three children who use wheelchairs.

“Those kids deserve to be able to play with able-bodied friends, to share equipment, to share time in the playground, to go out and have fun,” he said.

“I’m speaking out of school here, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see us well on our way late this summer with a playground, but it depends on how long it’s going to take to come up with the equipment we want and the design.”

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