(Metro Creative photo)

Playgrounds at Barriere Ridge under refit order

A number of youngsters were quite surprised last week when they went to use the playground swings at the Barriere Ridge, only to find the swings were gone.

When a daycare worker contacted School District 73 facilities representative to find out if they had removed the swings, she received the following message, “Ya – we took them – we’re going to be reworking that playground…” After a conversation with a different SD73 staff member she was advised the swings were removed was because of a fall risk and that a staff member would be coming out sometime in the next few weeks to access and get a quote to replace.

Rhonda Kershaw, chair of SD73 Board of Trustees, commented on the same Facebook post that she had inquired with SD73 regarding the reason for removing the swings, and had been informed they were removed because of “a maintenance deficiency in the fall protection (ground) which falls within the District of Barriere’s responsibility”.

The Star/Journal contacted District of Barriere CAO Bob Payette last Tuesday in regards to the status of the playground swings at the Barriere Ridge where the District of Barriere is the lease holder of the building.

“I talked to the school board yesterday,” said Payette, “Apparently they do an inspection of the playgrounds every year that is called a playground audit, that reports on anything that needs to be fixed or needs to meet the standard. They have informed me that over the past few years the audit has indicated there are things that have to be maintained in that playground, and that hasn’t been done.”

Payette says he did not know anything about this, and he is unsure if any of the staff were aware the playground area was the municipality’s responsibility for maintenance. However, he can’t answer for the past, as he came on board with the municipality in July of 2020.

“It seems odd that the municipality would be maintaining a school board facility,” said the CAO, “But now that I know I will have to bring the cost of getting that playground up to standard to council because it is not going to be cheap.”

He notes the new standard will not accept the current pea gravel that is on the ground under the swings, and that their new standard is wood fiber. All the gravel will have to be removed and replaced with 10 inches of wood fiber, plus the installation of a 10 inch cement border around it.

“If we don’t do that the school district will not be approving that swing area playground on school property because they are concerned about liability,” said Payette, while also noting he has personal concerns about wood fiber as it is a combustible product.

The school district has advised that if the changes are not made accordingly the swings will not be put back up.

“They also told me that we have to make changes to the other playground on the other side of the building (which was installed by the Barriere Lions Club) because it did not meet the standards as required, some parts are too close to the border, and they also do not have the proper ground cover.

“The school district said they don’t want a child to get hurt, which would then result in SD73 being sued,” said the CAO, “So that’s where we’re at.”

Payette says the swing set and the playground equipment is not the problem, it is the ground cover and the borders around that ground cover that now have to be replaced with a cement border.

“The school district is our landlord, so we have to abide by their requests,” said Payette, “It’s not the actual equipment it’s the location of it.”

Payette says he plans to do some further investigation to see if there are any options available regarding the wood fiber, and he will be getting quotes to do the work His guesstimate of the cost will be in the $4000 to $5000 range.

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