Prince George Citizen Article on Playgrounds

Parents approve playground move

A strong majority of Austin Road and Springwood parents have no problems with moving playgrounds from those closed schools to Heather Park elementary school.

A survey of 30 homes — 19 around Austin Road and 11 around Springwood — was conducted in October and 77 per cent of respondents “definitely support” the idea, while 13 per cent “somewhat support” the idea.

Despite becoming home to about 740 kindergarten to Grade 7 students this school year, Heather Park, which was a middle school last year, has only one playground while each of Austin Road and Springwood remains home to two.  [Note: as of September 30th, Heather Park had 693 students in total, not 740]

[Former] Austin Road parent Sarah Holland supports moving a playground from that school to Heather Park.

“At the moment, only children in kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 2 are allowed to play on the Heather Park play structure and we have 220 K-2 students as of Sept. 30,” she said. “That’s a lot of kids to fit on one small play structure.”

[Former] Springwood parent Allison McCray has a similar view.

“When Springwood was closing it was general consensus, I would feel comfortable saying, that the parents wished the playground to go with the kids, it was theirs,” said McCray.

Three of the respondents were opposed or strongly opposed, all from the Springwood area.

Two respondents used the school site daily and one never used the school site but noted kids still play there and maintained the school district should buy two new playgrounds.

Fifty per cent of the respondents never use the closed sites, 13 per cent use them daily, 27 per cent weekly and 10 per cent less often than weekly.

School district policy dictates that structures at a closed school remain in place for at least one year before they’re moved.

Over the summer, the school district made the unusual move of purchasing playgrounds for Heather Park and Lac des Bois at a cost of $38,000 each.

Funds for playgrounds are typically raised by parent advisory councils but because no such organizations were yet in place at either school, trustees voted to put the cost on the school district’s tab.

The school district is looking at the possibility of using “in-house” resources to move playgrounds from Austin Road and Heather Park after receiving a quote of $38,000 from the original maker and installer to do the work — $21,000 for Austin Road and $17,000 for Springwood.

The survey was carried out by three volunteers on Oct. 24.

Full Playground Survey Report in PDF format