Christmas came a little early for children at Peace Arch Elementary as work began Monday (Dec. 7) for the upgrade and installation of new play equipment at the school’s playground.
On hand to watch as bulldozers moved piles of bark mulch to prepare the new extension to the existing playground were Raj Rajogopal of White Rock Rotary Club, White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker, White Rock school trustee Laurae McNally, community volunteer Moti Bali, Tom Miller, representing the Labourers International Union of North America Local 1611 and school acting principal Reena Gill.
The Rotary Club provided $63,000 it had fundraised – together with the City – to the school’s parent advisory committee in September, to help them complete the project.
Project co-chair Rajogopal said that, thanks to connections through Walker, the union – in co-ordination with International Union of Operating Engineers Local 115 and B & B Contracting – was able to save the project some $12,000 in the costs of upgrading the playground.
Miller said work would likely be complete within three days (although Rajogopal said it was likely a final inspection would take place Dec. 23, and that an official opening would wait until the new year).
“We’re very happy to be able to work on something like this in the community – besides, it gives us a chance to get out of our offices,” Miller said, noting the school’s children had been showing great interest watching the project outside the fencing surrounding the site.
“We’ve already had some of them wanting to get inside our compound,” he added with a laugh.
“As somebody who’s spent a lot of my life dealing with bureaucracy, and all the hoops people sometimes have to jump through, I’m really glad when I see a project like this work out well for everybody,” Walker said.
McNally said she feels that playgrounds are a key component of the educational process.
“This is where children get the fresh air and exercise they need – but they don’t think of it that way because they’re too busy playing,” she said.
Gill, who has stepped in until the Christmas break during the temporary absence of principal Laureen Boulet, said she was impressed by the project.
“As somebody new to this area, it shows me how deep the community that supports the school is,” she said.
And Bali, a former tennis champion in Uganda who has been very instrumental in training athletes, said he supports projects that help promote physical activity.
“Playgrounds are really important because everyone who goes there meets as an equal,” he said.