New playground for Eric Langton

Old Maple Ridge playground destroyed by vandalism, so parents just got to work

More than 40 parent volunteers came out to help construct a new $115,000 playground at Eric Langton elementary on Saturday, much to the delight of the 400 students at the Maple Ridge school.

The new structure replaces the school’s aging primary student playground, which has been vandalized repeatedly this year.

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

In April, vandals struck again, forcing school district maintenance workers to remove and block portions of the playground’s slide, rendering the structure all but unusable.

The new playground features solid metal construction, is wheelchair accessible, and includes components for children of all sizes and abilities.

“A lot of planning goes into pulling off a construction project of this size in one day;” said principal Jon Wheatley. “The sheer number of volunteers willing to give their time and skills show what a wonderful school community we have.”

Eric Langton’s Parent Advisory Council has been fundraising for several years to obtain playground equipment for the school through bake sales, plant sales and special events.

Parents and students at the school stepped up their fundraising efforts earlier this year after the playground used by Eric Langton’s primary students had to be boarded up.

“It’s been tough to see it disintegrate like it has this year,” said Wheatley.

The Meadow Ridge Rotary Club decided to pitch in $35,000 after learning about the damage to the playground, while the Ministry of Education contributed $50,000.

Several community service groups also made generous donations, including Kiwanis Club of Golden Ears and the Royal Canadian Legion Ladies Auxiliary Branch No. 88.

“We are very grateful for the generous donations that have helped us build the new playground,” said project coordinator Lisset Peckham. “Many local businesses have also donated supplies and food for build day and we really appreciate their support.”