George Abbott made his fourth visit to New Westminster as education minister on Thursday morning to announce $3.3 million in funding for school playgrounds in the province.
New Westminster will receive $75,000 of that: F.W. Howay receives $50,000 and Queen Elizabeth Elementary receives $25,000.
In total, 80 schools across all 60 school districts in the province are receiving money during this third phase of playground funding from the province.
During the two years of the program, 227 schools have received a total of $8 million in playground funding.
"I loved playgrounds as a child," said Abbott as he made his announcement at F.W. Howay's playground. "I loved playgrounds as my kids grew up, and one of my favourite things is taking my 14month-old grandson to the playground."
Abbott also took the opportunity to go down one of F.W. Howay's slides with students Julia Brothers and Christian Franck.
Grade 3 student Duncan Conner took the microphone to thank Abbott for the funding commitment.
"We're all really excited for the playground," said Duncan.
Prior to the announcement, Abbott spent 10 minutes in an office talking to New Westminster school superintendent John Woudzia.
"I was very pleased that George chose New Westminster as the spot to make this announcement," said Woudzia. "I wanted to thank him because he could've chosen anywhere to make this announcement.
"We spent the time talking about what has happened since he last came here in September. - He asked how things were going, and we had a very good dialogue."
Abbott said he was pleased to make the announcement in New Westminster because of the respect he has for the employees and management of the district.
"New Westminster is a place I enjoy visiting," said Abbott. "John Woudzia is among my favourite superintendents."
School board chair James Janzen thanked the province for the funding commitment, adding that local parents also deserve credit for all the fundraising they've done for their playgrounds.
"I know for my daughter, we worked for years to fundraise for a playground," said Janzen. "All credit goes to the parents, who are an important part of this process. These are assets not just for the school community, but the wider community. - It's a good thing not just for the school district, but the city as a whole."
Kathy Cassels, executive director of the Directorate of Agencies for School Health, was also at the press conference to offer her thoughts.
"Playground activity improves the health and learning capacity of young students in B.C.," said Cassels.
"By repairing, improving and, where necessary, replacing playgrounds, the B.C. government is promoting, supporting and facilitating a healthy schools approach for young learners."
Also receiving money is Rosser Elementary in neighbouring Burnaby, which will get $50,000 in this phase of playground funding.