MLA John Les was at Bernard elementary on Tuesday morning to announce a $50

Bernard elementary’s long wait for a new playground is over

Chilliwack– Bernard elementary is receiving $50,000 in funding for a new playground from the B.C. Education Ministry.

Bernard elementary is $50,000 closer to a new playground.

The elementary school was the only Chilliwack school listed in the B.C. Education Ministry’s latest playground funding announcement last Thursday.

The government announced an additional $3.3 million would be provided for 80 schools across the province to repair, improve and replace playground structures.

It was an announcement that couldn’t have come sooner for Bernard elementary, a school that’s endured a condemned playground for more than a year, and “didn’t hold out hope” for government funding, “because we’ve been let down so many times.”

Last year, the school’s Parents’ Advisory Council was given one year to come up with a minimum of $60,000 to replace the intermediate playground, a wood-structure that’s more than 20 years old and is falling apart, rotting, and has bees nests all throughout.

It was passed over for funding last September, when the government’s first phase of playground funding went to schools without playgrounds, which in Chilliwack included three middle schools. The second round of government funding, in December, also overlooked Bernard and instead went towards reimbursing school’s, including F.G. Leary elementary, McCammon traditional, and Tyson elementary, for funds they had raised towards playground replacements.

Still, while Bernard elementary, an inner-city school, didn’t have much faith in the government stepping up, it did in its community.

The school’s PAC held coin drives, bottle drives, raffles, dinners and dances, craft fairs, a Ford Drive 4 UR Cause event, and has written several grant proposals in order to gain sufficient funds.

The community came through, raising more than $50,000.

“A playground has been ordered and we hope to have it installed over the summer so that it will be ready for the new school year,” said Deana Reid, head of Bernard’s playground fundraising committee.

Although the PAC hasn’t yet had a chance to sit down and discuss the new funding, it will be looking at adding further playground structures, as well as purchasing new technology for the school’s classrooms.

This funding announcement was the final phase of an $8-million playground funding commitment made by the government last September.

kbartel@theprogress.com

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