Keough took issue with the wheelchair ramp and handwashing station placement at the newly built Maple Ridge elementary playground. (Ronan O’Doherty/ The News)

Keough took issue with the wheelchair ramp and handwashing station placement at the newly built Maple Ridge elementary playground. (Ronan O’Doherty/ The News)

School playground layout incorrect, says Maple Ridge dad

Newly built Maple Ridge elementary recreation area oriented the wrong way

Parents of Maple Ridge elementary students were delighted when they learned the school would be getting a new playground.

Funding came last September in the form of a provincial grant for $125,000.

That delight turned to disappointment recently, when it was discovered the newly built recreation area was oriented incorrectly.

Stephen Keough, who has three children attending the school said it was installed backwards.

The concerned parent – who is in the construction industry himself – said the orientation the Parent Advisory Council and School District 42 had signed off on, was not what was built in the school’s yard.

“From a builder’s perspective, there’s absolutely no reason they should be installing it in a certain direction if they didn’t have approval to put it in a certain direction,” he said.

“It’s no different from building any house, or school, or even a dog house.”

READ MORE: Maple Ridge students set to receive new $125,000 playground

The existing playground has a few issues which Keough pointed out.

He said there is a children’s slide built with a timber wall for an adjacent playground within six feet of the foot of the slide. The builder argues that makes it incompliant with existing Canadian Standards Association guidelines.

In addition, Keough pointed out, the wheelchair ramp is at the furthest and least accessible area of the playground.

“If the ramp was where it was supposed to be, then it would come right off the asphalt closest to the school and run seamlessly into the playground,” he noted.

“The way they have it, you have to leave the asphalt and go into the dirt, and wood chips and go to the opposite corner from the school to access the ramp.

“It makes the least sense possible.”

A hand-washing station located next to the ramp is in the wrong place too, Keough asserted.

“That was one of the things parents spotted first,” he said.

“It was the smoking gun, if the construction company decided to at least install the hand-washing station in the right spot – closest to the school – they might have avoided people noticing.”

Its current position at the opposite end of the playground makes it unlikely, he said, students will wash their hands before playing in the recreation area, or on their way back to class.

In a perfect world, Keough said, he would like to see the whole playground re-oriented.

“At the very least I’d like to see the hand-washing station moved, and a path created for the wheelchair ramp, ” he said.

“I also think the parent advisory committee deserves some communication from the school district and this construction company that shows how this happened and what’s going to be done to make sure something like it doesn’t happen again in the future.”

School District 42 spokesperson, Irena Pochop explained selection of the playground equipment was delegated to the school and the school’s Parent Advisory Council, who were provided with the necessary guidelines.

“The school and the PAC selected and approved the playground design, which unfortunately did not specify orientation,” she said.

Following that, the district was advised of the construction schedule and gave the contractor access to the playground.

“Our facilities department raised concerns with the contractor regarding the orientation of the playground at Maple Ridge Elementary,” she continued.

“The district requested that the contractor pave a walkway around the circumference of the playground, which will address all accessibility issues.”

She also noted the playground meets all CSA regulations for slide landings, installation, surfacing, layout, and child safety.

“In the future, all playground designs that are selected and approved by schools and their PACs will require sign-off from the facilities department before work begins,” Pochop said.


Is there more to the story? Email: ronan.p.odoherty@blackpress.ca

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