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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

RELEASE: Downtown Playgrounds Reimagined – Volunteers Wanted


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The Vancouver Society of Children’s Centres (VSOCC) and Projects in Place Society (PiPS) are excited to partner in greatly improving licensed playgrounds in downtown Vancouver this year. Located within five childcare centres, these nine playgrounds will incorporate concepts of sustainability, food security and environmental conservation with play and storytelling.

“We are excited to work with VSOCC, as they have been an active community organization for almost 20 years,” remarks Alex Taylor, PiPS Board Member and project lead for the rehabilitation of two playgrounds at the Sapphire Children’s Centre at West Pender and Bute. “They recognize that children and families are healthy and resilient when they are actively connected to and positively engaged in their community.”

Over two weekends in March, VSOCC, PIPS, and a band of enthusiastic volunteers built many creative and sustainable features for the Sapphire Centre’s playgrounds with thousands of dollars of donated items. 700 volunteer hours later, the playgrounds now boast art posts, play podiums, composting station, a planted berm and more.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with PiPS. We know that exposure to natural environments strengthens the health of children and having children actively involved in the world around them helps them develop a sense of social responsibility and belonging. Our playground improvements will create even more dynamic, engaging and interactive spaces for our children and families,” says Sandra Menzer, Executive Director of VSOCC. With the help of volunteers,

PiPS utilize their design and construction expertise to overcome an organization’s lack of funds, capacity, and manpower. “The Partnership for a Greener Future is working out really well,” exclaimed Bob Estey, VSOCC Board member who also volunteered his Sunday for the Sapphire project. “Not many people on our Board have the expertise in volunteer coordination, construction or design so this is turning out to be a really good partnership.”

Now the two groups are setting their sights on an even more ambitious project with the rehabilitation of playgrounds at the Library Square Children’s Centre located within the iconic Central Library complex. Drawing on the theme of storytelling, additions will include a drama stage and storytelling space as well as a greenhouse, planters, and composting stations. As with the Sapphire playgrounds, volunteers are essential in making the rehabilitation a success. “I wanted to help out” said Kim Steger, Board member at VSOCC.

Steger also has two young children attend VSOCC centres. Steger got to see first-hand how volunteers and professionals work together in a team to make the vision for the playground a reality. “The event is collaborative, it involves the community, and it creates an opportunity for parents to have a hand in building the playground their children are going to use.”

The engineering and construction firm Ausenco and its Foundation also donated to the project and lent their muscle and sweat. “The aim was to make the best use of some spaces that were under-utilized and also create some educational planters to teach about planting and sustainability,” said volunteer and Ausenco employee Reza Mousavi.

Volunteers can sign up as a general volunteer and for the upcoming Library Square Children’s Centre project at Volunteers are needed for delivery shifts on Friday, May 23rd, the pre-build event on Saturday, May 24th, and the build event the next week on May 31st.

“Volunteers will be part of this important legacy of creating high quality early learning environments,” notes Heather Stuart, one of two project leaders for the Library Square project. “These places help to introduce children to concepts like sustainability, agriculture, and environmental conservation but we’re doing it by providing innovative and engaging environments so that sustainability teaching is being incorporated in both passive and active ways.”


About the Vancouver Society of Children’s Centres
The Vancouver Society of Children’s Centres (VSOCC) has been serving families with young children since 1995. In partnership with many others, they have worked to create a vibrant, healthy and resilient community for families in downtown Vancouver. Today, VSOCC is the largest single-purpose organization providing non-profit childcare in British Columbia, serving families out of 13 locations and is one of the largest providers of infant and toddler care in Western Canada.

About Projects in Place Society
Formed in 2008, Projects in Place Society (PiPS) is a volunteer-run, non-profit
organization that combines a multidisciplinary group of volunteers and the general public to create engaging, playful, and sustainable places in the community. The skills of volunteers range from design, planning, ecology, engineering, to construction among others. PiPS has helped build several innovative projects in Vancouver including an interpretive garden at the Ken Spencer Science Park in Science World, a new playground for Pacific Heights Co-op, and a resource park for Strathcona BIA’s Green Zone initiative.
Projects in Place Society | | Vancouver, BC

Follow the projects throughout the process!