Six ribbon cutters ready to inaugurate the newest Monterey middle school playground equipment on Tuesday are, from left, Delphine Straith (Kiwanis Club), Tyler Hodgins (past PAC member), Calan Strauss-Donald (Grade 7), Kristin Semmens (PAC president), Kimberley Rogers (past PAC president), and Mayor Kevin Murdoch. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Monterey installs playground climber to kids’ delight

VIDEO: Students race to the top of Oak Bay’s newest climbing apparatus

Students raced in a swarm to be the first to the top of Monterey middle school’s newest piece of playground equipment, a $50,000 climber, when principal Ken Andrews removed the yellow tape on Friday.

On Tuesday, Andrews hosted a ribbon cutting with the community network that made it happen. It included former and current parent advisory council presidents (and members), as well as Kiwanis Club president Delphine Straith, Kiwanis media chair Janet Morningstar, and members of the Oak Bay Firefighters Charitable Foundation (who left to respond to a 911 call).

“It was so much fun to see how many kids can crowd onto this [climber] and play,” Andrews said. “This is the latest phase, not the final phase, because we keep thinking of the next thing.”

The climber looks like a giant spiderweb with stretchy ropes that make climbing enough of a challenge that it’s a little more fun than usual.

READ MORE: Oak Bay firefighters help fund new Monterey playground

It’s the latest phase of the Monterey playground revitalization which started in 2013, when a giant storm felled a tree right onto the old playground unit.

Kimberley Rogers was the PAC leader at the time.

“The playground was assessed and it was deemed rotten and non repairable,” she said. “We spent two years researching, consulting the neighbourhood, and surveying students, and [ultimately] came up with a vision that helped inform the design.”

A four-swing set (about $10,000) was installed as well as two outdoor classrooms (one on the other side of the school) built from large logs, a terraced rock wall seating area and path, and a gaga ball arena (gaga ball being a kind of gentler dodge ball).

Throughout the process there was a gala fundraiser and for two years Oak Bay Firefighters donated a total of $15,000. Last year Kiwanis Club donated $5,000 from the $10,000 president’s fund. At the time, the president was current Oak Bay Fire Chief Darren Hughes. He chose to donate the other $5,000 from the president’s fund to the Mustard Seed to buy a dishwasher at the new Food Rescue Project’s Esquimalt warehouse and kitchen.

READ ALSO: Oak Bay Firefighters Foundation’s Sausage Fest aims to raise money for Monterey playground

“We can’t thank the Oak Bay Firefighters foundation enough, they’ve been incredible, and for Kiwanis, giving us the last piece of funding to get the climber in place,” Rogers said.

“Now that it’s a middle school it didn’t have enough middle school-aged play structures, so it’s nice to see that,” said Jason Hodge, executive director of the firefighters foundation.

The 2019 Sausage Fest is June 22, noon to 9 p.m. at Willows Beach. Coincidentally, most of the $50,000 Kiwanis donated to community causes last year come from the Tea Room on Willows Beach.

“Our club is a children’s club that serves youth all over the world,” said Kiwanis president Delphine Straith. “This is one of many playgrounds we’ve contributed to in the community.”

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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