Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Covered Play Areas are a necessity in rainy North Vancouver

To our dismay, we have been advised by the North Vancouver School District that they plan to re-classify and re-name the policy that is under review from “Covered Area Projects” to “Site Enhancements”; lumping covered areas in with “outdoor classrooms, playground installations, gardens, and public art”. 

As we have pointed out, many feel that covered areas are a necessity (an essential component of the school building given our rain-forest climate), not an “enhancement” to be grouped in a policy with gardens and public art. Lumping covered areas with “enhancements” seems to already defeat any potential policy toward including them as an essential component in schools. 

The motion that the North Vancouver School Board approved in Nov. 2012, stated that they will “forward the issue of covered area projects to the Policy Review Committee for the development of policy and to the Presidents’ Council for future advocacy”. We urge the NVSD to create a policy, with public input, that specifically addresses covered areas only (in the two existing scenarios): 
1.    Covered Area Policy for new school builds (not an additional capital project but within the school build/renovation capital budget): Covered areas should be included in new school building plans from the beginning so they can be included in the funding estimate and capital fund planning with the Ministry (the Ministry of Education Area Standards state that covered play areas may be included within a school build budget). The costs are significantly lower if done in the building process rather than after-the-fact AND as mentioned they can be included within the building budget.  
2.    Covered Area Policy for the schools that have had them dismantled or not included in their build (now an additional capital project because of the NVSD decision to eliminate those covered areas): the omission/removal of covered areas was a decision made without public consultation, we need a policy that helps remedy the results of that decision by building and funding covered areas for those schools that no longer have them.
We encourage the policy review committees to really consider the students and to gather and consider public input to create policies that meet the needs of the children. The decisions made today will affect thousands of children for many generations to come.