Bayview is fortunate to have three playground areas.
1. Facing Collingwood close to West 6th Avenue, there is a mainly primary area consisting of several slides, nets, climbers, and pods. This playground equipment was purchased by the PAC, thanks in part to a $10,000 playground grant, and constructed by parents and other community members in 2008. The wooden slide at the very north end is likely to be removed in the coming years, as older wooden structures are fazed out.
2. Also on Collingwood but a little closer to West 7th Avenue, there is an older wooden structure with monkey bars, as well as a geodesic climber right next to the school. Like the coloured wooden slide in Area 1, these structures are likely to be slated for removal by the School Board at some point (see discussion below).
3. At the back of the school, near Dunbar Street, is more intermediate equipment. Some of this equipment, including the slide and lily pad section, was purchased and built in 2003. The remainder was purchased and built in 2009. The very back part of the playground cost about $18,000 – and was paid for by PAC funds plus a playground grant obtained by the PAC. The original plan included a large net in the center, which explains the empty space in the center of the playground. However, the PAC did not have adequate funds for this additional piece of equipment and decided to leave the necessary (and required) clearance to put in the climber in the near future.
So what are the issues?
The school has a lot of newer metal/plastic equipment because the previous playgrounds were made of pressure-treated wood. The Vancouver School Board slated these older structures for removal as part of their initiative to eliminate pressure-treated wood. This type of wood was used extensively in the past but has been found to leach cadmium and other heavy metals into the soil. Removal usually means replacement of much of the surrounding wood chips and/or soil.
The other consideration is the cost of maintaining older wooden structures. In some cases, the School Board has found it too expensive to monitor and repair things that no longer meet safety codes. Think of older slides – often higher and with less rim on the sides – or now extinct metal merry-go-rounds. The older wooden structures in the front playgrounds are likely to be phased out at some point, although there is no clear deadline right now. See here for some information about the VSB and playground maintenance.
Playground equipment is quite expensive. So parents have to weigh the cost of fundraising (and applying for grants) with the benefits of snazzy new structures. There are some wonderful possibilities out there, and you may have seen them at parks (e.g. Ceperley Park, Kits Beach) or schools (e.g. Emily Carr). The net climber included in the original plan from Suttle Recreation is called the High Stepper (either Regular size or Medium Size). The 2011 catalogue price is $17,700 (Regular) or $26,273 (Medium). There would be additional costs as well as possible rebates, so the net price could be more.
Another hot topic is natural playgrounds – with trees, rocks, and other features. While Bayview has a nice area by the back hill, we may want to consider expanding the natural areas rather than purchasing more equipment. Some more information can be found here: http://www.naturalplaygrounds.ca/
There may be playground grants available through various organizations and corporations, as well as provincial gaming grants. In the past, Bayview has received two $10,000 grants for the upgrades of the front and back playgrounds.
Please voice your opinions about playground options to the PAC Executive and at meetings.