An improved playground complete with up-to-date equipment should soon be a reality for children at White Rock Elementary, thanks to this week’s delivery of $63,000, raised for the purpose by White Rock Rotary Club, to Surrey School District 36.
Peace Arch Elementary received the same amount from the club in September of 2019 to upgrade equipment and improve its own playground, part of a two-pronged fundraising drive to benefit both schools launched by the club in late July of 2019.
A cheque for $63,000 for the White Rock Elementary part of the project was presented by club president David Grant and past president Jack Rae (who has co-chaired the project committee with fellow past president Raj Rajogopal) to Liane Ricou, associate director of business development for the district, on Thursday, May 27.
“This fulfils and discharges all our commitments to both schools,” Rae said. “I’m very happy – (the White Rock Elementary upgrade) can now go ahead from our point of view.”
He said that while the timeline for the last part of the project is not yet known – it will depend on contracts being released for site preparation and installation of new equipment, he added – “the school district will let us know when it’s ready to proceed.”
Rae added that the club is pleased to have been part of the process to deliver equipment that children will enjoy for decades to come.
He noted that White Rock Rotary’s Rheanna Sidhu, who was also on the playground committee, is the mother of a White Rock Elementary student.
“She was instrumental in bringing the playground project for both schools to us,” he said. “She was also the single largest individual donor to the project and worked hard for it.”
At the launch of the campaign at the White Rock Elementary playground in 2019, Rajogopal explained that the two schools and their parent advisory councils had been faced with a total bill of $250,000 to replace old playground equipment and to upgrade the grounds to modern safety and accessibility standards.
“They have already raised over $100,000, but the total shortfall is around $150,000,” Rajogopal said at the time.
Costs of upgrading the playground at Peace Arch Elementary were subsequently reduced by donations of materials and work from the contractor and two unions involved, and it is expected that similar savings will be achieved for White Rock Elementary.
A main fundraising event for the project was the Great Turkey Run/Walk, launched on Oct. 6, 2019 by White Rock Rotary in association with the City of White Rock, Sources Foundation and Peace Arch News.
Another boost to the project came, early in 2020, from Norm Stowe, managing partner of the Pace Group representing Landmark Premier Properties, who committed to contribute $10,000 in matching funding to the project and to encourage other corporate donations.