“The children played a huge part in fundraising to get the playground at St. Joseph’s,” said committee member Sandra Druggan. “When their school closed and the playground equipment remained, a big part of them was left behind.”
Druggan, who was a member of St. Joseph’s parents group, said the playground at St. Joseph’s was open to all children in the community.
“It is the same at Jubilee, any children that want to are welcome.”
Eight years ago it cost approximately $100,000 to install the all-access playground equipment next to St. Joseph’s, a project made possible through Let them be Kids, an Ontario-based initiative that helps communities build playgrounds.
“There was a huge amount of fundraising that took place to make this playground a reality. The entire community got behind the project, including the kids,” Druggan said. “One of the big fundraisers was a penny drive at St. Joseph’s.”
“I think the students raised between $3,000 and $3,500 in their penny drive. A lot of the students also gave up their canteen money at recess to help as well. The kids felt they had ownership because they helped with the project.”
The name Miner’s Memorial Playground honours the rich mining heritage of Sydney Mines and surrounding communities.
Beverley Phillips, co-president of the parent support group at Jubilee Elementary and a member of the committee, said the playground equipment would be a welcome addition to Jubilee.
“There is also concern about the monument, it should be moved as well,” Phillips said. “I think the playground was built assuming that the school would be there 20 years later — and not closed after seven or eight years.”
The push is on to get the work completed before winter.
Committee member Billy Lannigan said there is also a sense of urgency to have the work completed as soon as possible in the event the property is sold.
“There are no guarantees the playground equipment would be saved once the property is sold,” he said. “I’m meeting with school board officials on Friday to discuss the move. We are hoping the board will assist the committee with the cost of moving the equipment.”
The estimated cost to remove the playground and install it at Jubilee Elementary is $20,000.
“We are pretty confident we will manage with the help and support of the community,” Lannigan said. “Also, locally there are construction companies that might donate some time and machinery to help get the equipment on flatbeds and moved to Jubilee. I’m sure there are guys such as welders who are certified and would gladly lend a hand.”
He is hopeful to secure in-kind donations to try and keep costs to a minimum.
“We have to have a certified playground installer to oversee the installation. That can be costly, but it is necessary to ensure the playground equipment is installed correctly. The safety of the children is a priority.”
He said the focus is to get organized as quickly as possible.
“Anybody who wants to volunteer or has any ideas with respect to fundraising can call me at 902-577-9367.”
Coun. Clarence Prince has indicated the Cape Breton Regional Municipality will provide some financial assistance to help with the project.
“With the focus on keeping kids active, this equipment is an important addition to Jubilee Elementary,” Prince said.