Current playground equipment at Courtenay Elementary is among the Comox Valley school district’s oldest. Photo by Scott Strasser

School District 71 receives $105,000 for new accessible playground at Courtenay Elementary

The funding is part of the B.C. government’s Playground Equipment Program

Courtenay Elementary School students will enjoy a new accessible playground when they return to school next September.

On May 8, the B.C. government announced $5 million in funding to go towards playground upgrades at 51 schools this year.

Read More: Province invests $5M for new school playground equipment

Included in the announcement is $105,000 that will be allocated to School District 71 to build a universally accessible playground at Courtenay Elementary, replacing the old one in the process.

“What’s there right now is one of our oldest playgrounds. It’s very aging and it’s time we have a new build,” said SD71 communications co-ordinator Mary Lee. “It’s one of the oldest playground structures we have in the district.”

The funding is part of the province’s Playground Equipment Program (PEP), which will provide up to $5 million per year to B.C. school districts to buy new or replacement playground equipment.

Video courtesy of Black Press/Victoria News

This year, 26 schools will receive $90,000 for a standard playground, while 25 schools will receive $105,000 for a universally accessible playground. School districts applied for funding from the PEP in March and April.

“Courtenay Elementary desperately needs this playground, and so I’m delighted we’re delivering this new funding,” said Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard in a statement. “We finally have a government that understands that play is an important part of a child’s education and development, and I’m proud to be part of it.”

Universally accessible playgrounds differ from traditional playgrounds in that their design considers features that create a more inclusive environment for differentially-abled students.

Lee said now that SD71 has received confirmation of the funds, it can proceed with the procurement process for the playground’s construction.

“I don’t have a whole lot of information on the playground itself or what equipment will be purchased — that will be left up to the facilities manager,” she said, adding the playground will likely be added in the summer while students are on break.

“Our summer months for facilities maintenance is our busiest time of the year.”

Lee said an unveiling ceremony will likely take place when the new playground is finished.

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