Chilliwack playground arson sparks plea for vigilance

Following two school playground arsons, Chilliwack school district seeks support from the community.

Chilliwack school trustees are looking to the community to be the eyes on their school playgrounds.

Following two arson incidents in six weeks, trustee Walt Krahn implored the Chilliwack community to watch over their playgrounds at the open of Tuesday’s school board meeting.

“We are asking our students, parents, and even those who don’t have children in our schools to be vigilant… very alert, and highly visible to help us protect these adventure playgrounds,” said Krahn.

“If you see something of concern, we ask that you report it immediately.”

Last weekend the spinner apparatus in Little Mountain elementary’s playground was burned beyond repair, and last month Watson elementary’s playground was the target of a similar arson attack.

While both are covered by insurance under the B.C. government’s School Protection Plan, the school district still had to dole out $10,000 a pop for the deductibles.

Prior to 2011, insurance deductibles were $3,000 for playground equipment, but was increased to $10,000 by the government as a cost-savings measure.

“That is huge,” said Krahn. “Invariably our school district is footing the entire bill [for the replacements]. I would much prefer those funds going into our classrooms for our students.”

Trustee Martha Wiens echoed the sentiment.

“What makes people tick, we don’t know, but this is so heartbreaking,” she said. “I think we all need to watch, because surely somebody saw something.”