Parents and teachers of students at Torquay elementary are hoping to replace the school’s aging playground – but first, they need to raise more than $30,000.
Earlier this month, the Gordon Head school’s parent advisory council received a letter from the school district, saying the playground was going to be removed in the near future. The PAC has set aside about $17,000 to fund a new structure, but that’s a fair bit short of the $50,000 price tag on even a basic playground.
“We’re in a situation where after Christmas, that playground there will probably be gone and there won’t be a new playground there to replace it,” said parent Jasmine Haere.
“Just to get the design and the drawings to be approved is $4,000,” said PAC treasurer Lou Douillard. “Just to get the woodchips for an area like that, as a base layer, is $10,000. It just gives you an idea of how quickly things get eaten up before you even have a structure in place.”
According to Haere, the PAC has been raising money for a new playground over the last few years, after realizing the Greater Victoria school district doesn’t cover playground equipment. They’ve held fundraisers through Victoria Royals games, spring fairs and donation drives to try to afford the new playground in anticipation of the old one’s removal.
But despite three years of fundraising, they said the letter snuck up on them.
“We thought we had a bit more time,” said Douillard.
While the current structure appears sturdy, vice-principal Leann Trenchard said the principal took a closer look at it with the grounds and maintenance crew and realized it’s due to be torn down.
“There are things that are rotting that are underneath with the supports,” said Trenchard. “She did say it’s definitely in its last days.”
In preparation, Trenchard said the school has conducted a few focus groups with students, parents and teachers as to what they would like to see in the new structure.
“We involved the kids last year, looking at some features that they would like,” she said. “We have lots of ideas, and we’re just waiting to go forward with some of them.”
Trenchard said the new playground isn’t just for the students during recess and lunchtime – it’s for everybody.
“Our grounds are really utilized by the community – we’ve got a great field out there,” she said. “The whole community benefits.”
Torquay Elementary is accepting cheque donations made out to the Greater Victoria school district. Additionally, the PAC has started a crowdfunding campaign on CanadaHelps, an online platform for donating and fundraising online.
While in-person donations are preferred, both methods can issue tax receipts to people who donate more than $20. The school is also able to pick up donations if donors can’t drop them off.
To arrange a donation pickup, call the school at 250-477-9511. To donate through CanadaHelps, visit canadahelps.org/dn/25121.