MPES Playground gets $30,000 boost

Leah Elzinga (right) shows off the plans for the Morinville Public Elementary School playground to Benita Pederson after a recent presentation to the Morinville and District Chamber of Commerce. – Morinville News File Photo

by Calli Stromner

Morinville children may soon have another place to play after Town Council unanimously approved $30,000 in grant funding to go to building Phase One of the Morinville Public Elementary School (MPES) playground. The funding has been pulled from the Developers Recreation Contribution Reserve, a fund that pays for parks, walking trails and other recreation infrastructure within the community. The money will be held in trust while the MPES Parent Fundraising Association (PFA) continues their fundraising efforts.

“It seems that many of the schools just fall short (of funding),” said Chief Administrative Officer Deb Oyarzun. “Municipalities are able to do it and can do it,” she said, adding that not all municipalities give funding to school playgrounds.

Discussion from Council revolved around the ability of the parent association to fundraise the entire amount. MPES PFA president Leah Elzinga said that the volunteer hours and other in-kind donations are also counted towards the full $75,000 needed to secure matching funds from the province.

Councillor Gord Putnam also wondered how the recreation fund would be replenished. Planning & Development Director Greg Hofmann indicated that negotiations with developers usually include a provision for recreation fund contributions.

Deputy Mayor Stephen Dafoe asked if the MPES grant would prevent other recreation projects from going forward. Hofmann noted that “the approach we are taking is that those lands are developed and brought along the spectrum than they were in the past. There will always be a shortage (of recreation amenities). That is just the nature of a municipality.”

In closing, Deputy Mayor Dafoe reiterated his support for the playground project and the fundraising efforts already undertaken by the parent fundraising group. “It’s very commendable the efforts they have made, not only for the school but the broader community that will use it.”

In an interview after the Council decision, Elzinga said she was thrilled with the grant approval. “The community itself has already rallied around this project, giving invaluable feedback, donating raffle prizes, providing financial and in-kind support and volunteering hundreds of hours at fundraising events,” she said. “Council’s decision is the icing on the cake.” She added that with the $30,000 in town money, the Parent Fundraising Association can move immediately into the grant process. “With any luck, Phase I of the MPS Community Playground will be able to break ground in the Summer of 2015,” she concluded.

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