PlaySpace

Project Overview

The PlaySpace Project is a comprehensive plan to redevelop outdoor space on publicly accessible land adjacent to Westglen School in west-central Edmonton in order to help meet the recreational needs of both students and community members. The project includes redevelopment of the Division II (grades 4-6) playground, and resurfacing of the existing outdoor basketball court to make it a more effective and consistent playing surface for school and community use. A complementary outdoor learning space to be used by all grade levels (which would also be accessible to the broader community outside of school hours) is also proposed.

Project Background

In 2016 the Westglen Parent Association (WPA) conducted a survey of Westglen parents to determine the focus of fundraising efforts going forward. Parents identified redeveloping the Division II playground and creating an outdoor learning space as the two priorities. A PlaySpace Committee was formed that engaged in further consultation with students and parents about their wishes and commenced fundraising. It undertook a variety of initiatives, including bottle drives, a dance party, and a family obstacle course event, in partnership with local businesses such as Loblaws City Market, Studio Bloom, and City Fit, and raised approximately $20,000 between January and October 2017.

Due to administrative reorganization of the Westglen Parent Association, fundraising was put on hold for the remainder of the 2017-2018 school year. However, parents were re-surveyed in the spring of 2018 and expressed ongoing support for this project. As a result, the PlaySpace Committee was re-established and the WPA earmarked $14,100 in funds for the PlaySpace Project in its 2018-2019 budget. School-based fundraising continued through the 2018-2019 school year, and the PlaySpace Travel Raffle raised approximately $4500 dollars in the spring of 2019. Meetings between the PlaySpace Committee and the Westmount Community League resulted in a donation of $10,000 to the PlaySpace Project from the community league.

The WPA has applied for public and private grants for the PlaySpace Project. Results of applications for a TD Friends of the Environment Grant ($20,000), the Alberta Blue Cross Healthy Communities Grant ($50,000), and the Alberta Community Facility Enhancement Grant ($125,000) are pending. A corporate fundraising campaign was launched in September 2019, with 400 letters sent to members of the 124 Street Business Association, as well as developers and construction companies that are active in the community of Westmount. The WPA will be following up with these contacts during the fall of 2019.

Rationale

Westglen School is located in the neighbourhood of Westmount, a historic Edmonton neighbourhood with a diverse mix of families and single people, apartment buildings and single family homes, and socio-economic backgrounds. Westmount is an urban neighbourhood that is experiencing renewal. Ten years ago Westglen School had an enrollment of only 178 children; today it is a thriving place serving 354 students with continued growth anticipated. The growth in enrolment that started first in the primary grades has now reached the intermediate grades, leading to the addition of a new classroom at the intermediate level in 2018. There are now two full classes for each grade (K-6) at Westglen School.

The playground for grades 4-6 students is in poor condition and sparsely equipped; it does not accommodate the large number of children that play in this space at recess three times per day. On September 15, 2019, three of the four existing play structures were removed due to poor condition and the inability of the school to find companies able to repair damage to these structures. The space is not geared to the older children who use it, and the project vision is to re-design the space specifically for children ages 9 and up. While the Edmonton Public School Board assumes responsibility for the maintenance of school playgrounds, it does not cover the cost of playground redevelopment. Current and future Westglen students will benefit from the redevelopment of the playground for years to come.

Moreover, Westglen School is a neighbourhood hub, situated adjacent to the Westmount community hall as well as a preschool, retirement residence, and fitness club. In addition to the school children who use this playground during the school day, a YMCA daycare and a YMCA out-of-school care program operate year-round on Westglen School property, and the Sports for Kids out-of-school care program that operates out of the Westmount Fitness Club also uses the Westglen School outdoor space. Together, these programs serving approximately 150 children year-round. All of these program participants, as well as the community at large, will have access to, and benefit from, the new play and learning spaces. The school grounds are open and accessible to the public outside of school hours and this project would offer a significant addition to the community. The location of Westglen School on the 127 Street bike lane will also facilitate access to the redeveloped outdoor spaces by youth from surrounding communities such as Inglewood, Prince Rupert, Queen Mary Park, and North Glenora.

The motivation for this project responds to an extensive body of research that highlights the significant benefits of time spent outdoors to children's physical and mental health, as well as the importance of “risky play” and unstructured play time for children. Research also highlights a relationship between the time children spend outdoors and their environmental stewardship as adults.

More information about the rationale and enthusiasm for this project are contained in a video about the Playspace Project that may be viewed at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4F_XxaXUaRcPlease note that several pieces of play equipment visible in the video have since been removed (as depicted in the photo below).

Northwest Side of Westglen School, September 20, 2019 (Photo reflects removal of three pieces of equipment on September 15, 2019).

Project Budget

$400,000 for both phases of the project. This budget includes the cost of removing old playground equipment, site preparation, purchase and installation of new equipment and surfacing, upgrading the basketball court, and landscaping, seating, planters, and a pergola/cover for the outdoor learning space.

Our goal

Raise $200/student from school-based fundraising and donations this school year. Combined with the $30,000 raised to date, this would bring us to $100,000 in school-based fundraising. Our target is to secure an additional $100,000 in corporate donations and $200,000 in grant funding.

Timeline

Fundraising will occur during the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year, and building will proceed with the money raised in this time. Design consultation sessions will be held with students, parents, and invested community partners in the spring of 2019. In the fall, the scope of work will be finalized and the tendering process will occur. Construction of the play and learning spaces will begin in spring of 2020.

Spread the Word

Donate

    • Make a donation:
      • By cheque. The Edmonton Public School Board will issue tax receipts for donations over $25. Cheques should be payable to Westglen School, with Westglen Playspace in the memo line. Direct cheques to:

Westglen School

10950 127 ST NW

Edmonton, AB T5M 0S7

      • Online. Tax receipts will NOT be issued for online donations. https://squareup.com/store/westglen-parent-association

For more information, contact

Danielle Reese and Mary-Ann Lingwood, Co-Chairs

Playspace Committee of the Westglen Parent Association

playspace@westglenpa.com