By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
A new community-based group Project Playground Coaldale East has been working with the Town of Coaldale’s community services department to support the committee with fundraising and grant writing efforts for a proposed playground in east Coaldale, located at Coaldale Christian School.
It was stated in a report submitted to town council for consideration in the fall of 2015, the land where the committee wishes to build the additional playground is owned by the town. Therefore, no development permit is required.
A delegation made up of parents, community members and over 15 kids paid a visit to council chambers to discuss the initiative with council members. “We’ve been working on this project for a couple of months,” said project organizer Colleen Van Raalte, as she introduced council to the group.
In a letter submitted to council for consideration, Van Raalte stated, the group would like to request the town to support the venture both financially and in-kind.
Project Playground Coaldale East, the letter stated, would like to request $20,000 in financial support from the town.
After talking about the health benefits of physical activity for children, organizer Melanie Harthoorn said, it’s great to be able to get kids outside to a great playground.
“It just helps them reach their physical activity goals,” Harthoorn added.
According to the report submitted to council, the playground’s proposed location serves a variety of community groups including students attending Coaldale Christian School, residents in the Parkside neighbourhood and from the Seasons modular home community, and for visitors camping at the town’s only campground The Owl’s Nest.
It was stated in the report, “The current playground is inadequate to meet the need of the increasing population” of the school, where enrolment continues to increase.
Van Raalte said the plan for the project is to expand the existing structure to include an improvement to the playground surface for the entire playground by replacing the sand with rubber, which is a safer and more hygienic option. “The type of structure we are pursuing will appeal to children of all ages and will contain some more challenging components that will attract older children,” said Van Raalte, adding it is the goal to raise $300,000 by applying for government and community grants and through other fundraising initiatives.
The group understands, Van Raalte said, the town is working to develop the budget and potential funding for the playground could come from Coaldale’s photo radar program.
“Please realize your contribution, can and will be matched by other government grants. Local community members have already shown their support for Project Playground,” she said.
Van Raalte noted the Coaldale Wellness Association has agreed to contribute $20,000 to the project. Leonard Fast from the association was also in attendance at the council meeting. “We think it’s a very good project. We have been involved in most of the playgrounds in Coaldale over the last number of years. The need was indicated to us for the need of a playground on the east side and we’re more than happy to contribute to that. Especially with the Parkside development and the Seasons. We thought it was an excellent way to utilize our funds, especially considering one of the aims of our organization is the wellness of the community and if we can get that to the children, that’s an excellent way to further our goals,” said Fast.
Coun. Bill Martens asked the delegation if the group anticipates to have the project completed by September 2016, as noted in the report. “It is a bit ambitious,” said Van Raalte, but with applying for grants there is a very short time frame to execute projects.
Coun. Martens also asked how close the group was to achieving the $300,000 goal.
Harthoorn said the group has $40,000 from the Coaldale Fun Run and the additional $20,000 from the Coaldale Wellness Association.
“We have a list of grants we are in the midst of applying for and a list of potential other community organizations we have approached and we need to approach. But, that is only the sure funds we have received, so far,” said Harthoorn.
Coun. Bill Chapman asked the delegation what kind of in-kind support the group was looking for from the town.
The delegation noted the group has asked town staff about advertisements in the town’s leisure guide and in the town’s newsletter. Also, in-kind support could include sprinkler systems at the new playground location.
Stephanie Wierl, community services manager, said the group would also be looking to Coaldale residents to volunteer during the playground build.
Council will take a look at the request during upcoming budget deliberations.