Parents at Vancouver elementary school are frustrated by a playground’s “messy mess.”
Parents at Elsie Roy Elementary in Vancouver discuss the condition of the playground used by students.
They say that in rainy weather, a poor drainage system creates large pools of water that cover the playground and paths leading to the school entrance, and turn an adjacent field into a soggy mound of mud.
“The field is essentially becoming a soupy mess of water, goose droppings and dirt,” said Mokah Shmigelsky, Chair of Elsie Roy’s Parent Advisory Board.
“We end up with muddy puddles and the kids have to wait all day or play in the mud and dirt.”
Shmigelsky and other parents of Elsie Roy are urging the city of Vancouver and the parks authority to find at least a temporary solution to fix the problem.
The David Lam Park Playground is a public space owned and maintained by the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Park Board. Nearly 425 Elsie Roy students and children from the Dorothy Lam Children’s Center use the area daily.
Shmigelsky has been at the school with her three children for almost 10 years. She says the condition of the playground “has been an issue for a long time [she] can remember” and has deteriorated in recent years.
“As a parent, it’s hard having to constantly wash and empty boots at the end of each day,” she said. “It would be much nicer if there were playgrounds that didn’t involve such chaos.”
“It’s just a pointer”
Jay Markowsky has been a parent to Elsie Roy for two years and has tried every possible way to clean up the mud and puddles.
“The park wasn’t designed properly… I’ve personally filed at least 15 or 20 complaints… Every parent I’ve spoken to has,” he said, adding that they had contacted the City of Vancouver, Vancouver School Board and Vancouver Park Board.
“It’s just a pointer… The city says, ‘Sorry, it’s a Parks Department problem because the Parks Department is managing it.’ And when you talk to the park officials, they say, ‘We don’t have any money.’”
The park board stated in a written statement that the park is regularly inspected for safety and usability. It added that the playground is newer than many others in the city, giving it a lower priority for renewal.
“The last inspection was conducted in late September and no safety issues were found…Other minor maintenance improvements are currently underway,” the park authority said.
Shmigelsky says the parents aren’t asking for the park to be resurfaced with concrete or rubber, but are hoping for a temporary drainage solution.
Markowsky considers the topic to be “not rocket science” and considers an affordable solution possible.
“A bit of board around the edges and bark mulch would fix that until they can…fix that properly,” he said.
In the meantime, he thinks about fixing the problem with his own hands.
“I’ve even thought about building some little wooden bridges at night and sneakily putting them in so our kids can walk to class without soggy shoes.”