Community

Vandals strike Maple Ridge school playground, again

Kids can
Kids can't stay off playground at Eric Langton elementary, even after it was damaged by vandals.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/The News

For the second time in a month, vandals have struck the playground at Eric Langton elementary, rendering it unusable by students and neighbourhood children.

The latest round of damage forced maintenance workers to remove and block portions of the playground’s slide.

“When damage like this occurs, our first priority is child safety and so damaged parts are either repaired or removed,” said Jim Pasquill, School District No. 42’s maintenance manager. “This is a very old piece of equipment, so it is very difficult to give a fair estimate of cost to repair.”

This is the second time in the past month Eric Langton elementary’s playground has been the victim of vandalism.

During spring break, the playground’s slide was smashed, metal pipes were stolen, and the metal brackets holding the playground together were broken.

The school’s parent advisory council is hoping to raise $80,000 to $100,000 for a new playground, complete with accessible swings for students in wheelchairs, and a sensory panel for students with autism and learning disabilities.

“It’s been hard on the kids,” says PAC chair Lisset Peckham. “Playgrounds are an essential part of every single school. Kids can release energy, make friends and have fun.”

The school’s PAC held a trivia night fundraiser on April 13 for the new playground, raising more than $2,500. With only $25,000 saved up from the last few years of fundraising, it could be four or five years before parents can replace the school’s playground.

“It was the first of many fundraisers,” said parent Heather Treleaven.

School vandalism regularly costs School District No. 42 close to $500,000 annually.

• To report an act of vandalism or suspicious activity at a public school in Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, call 604-466-HELP (4357). The hotline is open 24 hours.

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