Hi Folks, I attended the meeting about playground funding on November 22 at the EFCL. MLA Thomas Lukaszuk was there along with half a dozen folks from the City and a gaggle of community league folks including Troy from Belle Rive in our area.
There were wide ranging discussions. Mr. Lukaszuk explained that he feels playgrounds are costing a lot more in Edmonton than in places like Spruce Grove. He also said that the more expensive playgrounds that are built the fewer neighbourhoods will get playgrounds. He said the pot of money is limited from the province. He explained that the provincial money is divided four ways: 1) Edmonton; 2) Calgary; 3) Small Towns; 4) Rural Alberta. He did not say if it was done on a per person, or per capita basis.
The group talked about the use of volunteers in the building of playgrounds and the City seemed to say they would refrain from discouraging communities from using volunteers.
The group also talked about expectations in building playgrounds and managing them. There was some discussion about how suppliers tend to ramp up the sense that we need to buy everything under the sun for each playground and that sometimes overlooked are the less expensive features that are less focused on hardware and more focused on activities and use of the park.
After the meeting the EFCL asked the City to also look at the cost of drainage requirements to see if that can be managed better to reduce the cost to leagues building playgrounds.
Most of the city funding is geared to "neighbourhoods" which is fair for community leagues that have more than one neighbourhood in their community. There is one gap this principle – apparently district parks such as Poplar Park in Belle Rive do not qualify for NPDP funds that are geared to neighbourhoods. Some of our city representatives promised to look into what fund could be used to support playgrounds in district parks like Poplar Park.
When asked about how decisions are made about provincial funding for community leagues undertaking park projects. Mr. Lukaszuk reiterated that funds are limited, but did not elaborate on how funds are dispersed. However, Mr. Lukaszuk did say that there is nothing that should prevent groups from applying for casino funds to assist in funding playgrounds. I did indicate that we heard community folks were getting a lot of grief about this from gaming, so I would suggest taking your applications to your MLA and give them copies when you submit them. He suggested getting you project pre-approved by gaming and to get your MLA involved if you have problems.
It was very worthwhile to get community, city and provincial folks all in the same room!