Saskatoon city council considers school playground funding approach after $800K contribution

The City of Saskatoon has allocated $800,000 to help build playgrounds at four new joint-use schools opening in the fall.

Mayor calls municipal money for joint-use school playgrounds 'unprecedented'

City council has approved an $800,000 contribution to playgrounds at four new schools in Saskatoon. (James Hopkin/CBC)

The City of Saskatoon has allocated $800,000 to help build playgrounds at four new joint-use schools opening in the fall.

At a meeting on Monday, city councillors voted unanimously to give a one-time contribution to playgrounds planned for schools opening in the Evergreen, Rosewood, Stonebridge and Hampton Village neighbourhoods.

Another $400K for park landscaping

The decision was based on a report by city administration, which recommended that council approve a contribution of up to $800,000 for the play structures.

We could've spent the money on other things.- Charlie Clark, Saskatoon mayor

The city also adopted the report recommendation that another $400,000 be given for park landscaping and construction costs, to integrate neighbourhood park parcels with the school sites.

The money will come from an already existing fund designed for community centres for new neighbourhoods.

The funds will assist parents in the new joint-use school zones, who are fundraising to get the playgrounds built.

Each of the eight schools will need their own space.

Playground funding needs review: Councillors

In addition to approving the funding, the city also agreed to confer with the provincial government for advice on how to handle similar requests more efficiently in future.

Mayor Charlie Clark said it was an "ongoing dialogue."

"This is unprecedented," he said.

"We could've spent the money on other things."

The city's general manager of community services, Randy Grauer, described the $800,000 allocation as an "eminently reasonable expenditure."

Coun. Mairin Loewen said she had no problem supporting the one-time contribution, but called for the city to review how it builds playgrounds on school sites in the future.

Neighbourhoods with existing schools must still do their own playground fundraising for refurbishments or additions. 

With files from CBC's Jennifer Quesnel