By Cole Parkinson
Central Elementary School in Taber is hitting the fundraiser trails in hopes of securing enough funding to bring a new playground to their students.
Central School sent a delegation to M.D. council chambers with the goal of receiving any type of support from the councillors.
The need for a new structure comes from the dangers the current playground presents to the students.
“Our first step when we decided to build this new playground was the one piece that we have, the issue we’re having with it is the piles that are in the ground. Because of our water table, they keep rising so the structure itself has become unsafe and that’s why we had to remove it. In between that structure we have these green spaces that we plan on removing and expanding our playground space,” said Clarissa Brown, who was representing Central School at the M.D.’s regular meeting on Nov. 7.
Central is working with a company called Blue Imp to work on which equipment they want for their new playground.
Brown says she wasn’t aware of how much the playground would cost, when all was said and done.
“When I started talking with Blue Imp, we set out a wish list and when you set out that wish list, we had about 10 pages of things kids wished that they could have in a playground and to fit all of that into one little space doesn’t work. So we made it smaller and made it fit into the space that we wanted and came up with a plan. It came to $278,000, I was never aware that playgrounds cost that much money.”
The $278,000 will include everything from equipment to set up, but a significant piece of the money will be placed towards the surface for the structure.
“A big portion of that is the rubber matting that we are trying to have for that. That rubber matting would make our playground an inclusive playground, which would mean wheelchair users could go all around the playground area. Parts of the playground that we included, like if you go up the ramp, there are pieces that have sensory play to them, so it’s not just geared toward one specific child,” said Brown. “We are tying to make it so that every child that comes to that playground has something that they can use.”
More than half of the proposed cost of the playground provided by Blue Imp would be going towards the rubber matting that would surround the entire area.
The surface itself would be similar to what Barnwell School had installed for their new playground.
“It’s a rubber cushioned surface that’s a spray-on, continuous surface and allows snow and rain to infiltrate through the mat to the gravel below. The one key element in that is building on a nice gravel base because that drainage is very important,” said Derrick Krizsan, CAO of the M.D. of Taber.
With the large cost coming forward with the rubber matting, council had questions as to how essential it would be moving forward.
“It’s not firm, that’s a lot of money for a school to raise and ultimately the playground is what we are trying to build. The rubber matting is a great thing and it does give all-access play. We do have a child in a wheelchair in our school, but we also have wheelchair accessible play sets that he can get to already. It’s not a set in stone thing,” said Brown. “There is an Alberta recycling grant that is $30,000 and that is specifically for the rubber mat, but at the end of the day, March comes and I don’t have the funds for that rubber mat, I’m not going to apply for that grant because it’s not going to get used.”
In the past, the M.D. has contributed to many other playgrounds whether it be financially, in labour or providing gravel. Council questioned what Central School’s biggest need would be.
“Ultimately yes, money is our biggest thing, but at the end of the day if you want to give us gravel we would gladly take that. If we do not do the rubber mat surface, that is $185,000 out of that budget just for that, then we would do the pea gravel,” said Brown.
The school is hoping to keep accumulating money into the new year before they start seriously looking at grants for the project.
“My goal is to have as much funds raised for March and then in March we will be applying for the grants that we can, there are some different foundations as well that are willing to help us. Co-op has one and they do it for communities, the last project they donated $300,000 for a food bank in Lethbridge,” said Brown.
Once March arrives they will be applying for the Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP) which will match any of their funds raised to that point. Council passed a motion to provide $15,000, to help rip down the existing playground and road crush gravel, but not pea gravel as it presents an extra cost.