Play Structures and Outdoor Spaces: What School Councils Need to Know

Play Structures and Outdoor Spaces: What School Councils Need to Know
Posted on 04/29/2024

With spring in the air, School Councils may be thinking about how to enhance outdoor learning and play for their student community. 

The OCDSB’s Facilities department works collaboratively with school Principals, staff, Chief Custodians and School Councils to offer a wide range of outdoor features to schools, including:

  • Play structures
  • Outdoor classrooms
  • Outdoor seating (benches, picnic tables)
  • Outdoor sports systems (basketball nets, soccer goal posts, triple hoops)
  • Line painting, including games
  • Outdoor play (play panels, log play huts)
  • Planting beds (raised of ground level) and tree planting
  • Sod, asphalt, mulch area
  • Retaining walls

Kurt BergerKurt Berger, OCDSB Architectural Technician, specializes in naturalized play and looks after play structures and outdoor greening. He is the main point of contact for pricing, grants, concept development, and project management to help schools and School Councils achieve their vision.

For smaller requests, such as installation of picnic tables, the school’s Chief Custodian, Principal, area supervisor, and School Council send Kurt a request asking about a product or pricing. Kurt provides pricing information and, when funds are available, facilitates installation.

For larger requests, such as play structure renewals, Kurt meets with all parties to review the yard and discuss possibilities. He provides the school and School Council with examples of past yards, typical structures, and new ideas. He shares a concept plan with rough pricing and adjusts it based on feedback. Once the plan is finalized and the school has raised funds, Kurt facilitates the bidding process, awards the contract, and manages the project, which typically takes place over the summer.

These projects may be funded through one or more of the following:

  • Funds raised by schools – School Councils often work with their school communities to raise funds through events or online donation pages.
  • OCDSB funding – For some projects, the OCDSB Facilities department may provide additional funds, matching dollar for dollar to a maximum of $25,000 (including HST). 
  • External grants – These include the City of Ottawa’s Community Partnership Minor Capital Program, Schoolyard Tree Planting Grant Program, and Community Environmental Projects Grant Program.

Do you have questions about the process, funding, outdoor features available, or how to get started? Email Kurt at [email protected]. We’ll be sharing common questions in future editions of the newsletter.

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