New playground a popular attraction for Torquay students

Saanich elementary school the beneficiary of $160,000 playground won through BCAA Play Here contest

Grade 3 student Lauren Jones of Torquay elementary climbs along the apparatus during the new playground’s official unveiling Friday.

Torquay elementary was abuzz with excitement Friday as students got their first chance to try out a new playground they had been waiting more than a year for.

Friday afternoon was the official ribbon cutting for the new $160,000 playground the school won through the BCAA Play Here contest.

“This is the best day ever,” said one boy as he ran from the 21st century merry-go-round called ’global motion,’ to the monkey bars.

“I love the attraction of it,” said Clark Hodi, a Grade 3 student who was part of the ribbon cutting-team with giant scissors. “The global motion is [hard to spin] as it’s heavy with so many kids on it, but it’s great.”

The final bolts were tightened and the caution ribbon removed on Friday at the Gordon Head school, which was announced as a co-winner of the BCAA Play Here contest in June after a month-long online competition that sought community votes.

Grade 4 student Bryston Bilawka was equally thrilled, and spent more time suspended from the fixtures than climbing on them.

“I love the global motion, and the spider web [rope climbing],” he said.

About $130,000 of the new playground, built by Habitat, was funded though the BCAA Play Here contest that the school won. Victoria School District 61 also put in thousands of dollars with a new heavy duty retaining wall, cedar chip surface and a log border.

PAC president Lou Douillard, credited SD61 for the timeliness of the landscaping.

Last year, Torquay’s playground was torn down, leaving the students with just woodchips and rubber tires to play with during recess. While the school PAC had raised about $27,000 over the last few years for new playground equipment, they were still short of the approximately $60,000 it costs for a basic playground.

Looking back, Douillard recognizes the importance of the strategy to bring together the PAC and community in preparation ahead of the BCAA Play Here online voting contest.

“It was really important that we got off to a great start in the contest, and we did that,” Douillard said. “In the final two days before the contest opened to the public we did a lot of work to make sure everyone was on board.”

While one $100,000 prize was initially up for grabs, both Torquay elementary and the Lillooet Rec Centre – who traded the lead in the competition throughout the contest – were announced as winners.

By the end of the vote count, they each had in excess of 125,000 votes each.

“It was great that we were able to accommodate both winners, I was very happy to make that announcement [at the time],” said Shawn Pettipas, manager of community impact with BCAA.

 

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