Playboxes in New Westminster parks prove problematic to keep stocked

Playboxes around the city have had their first equipment refill after only one week since their arrival in New Westminster.

The four Live 5-2-1-0 playboxes are part of partnership between City of New Westminster, the New Westminster school district, Fraser Health, Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation and SCOPE B.C.

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They were dropped off at Grimston Park, Hume Park, Moody Park and École Qayqayt Elementary School full of toys and sports equipment on Saturday, May 19, but by Thursday, May 24, all the boxes were empty.

City of New Westminster recreation programmer Sloane Elphinstone isn’t surprised.

“We’re not surprised the toys are disappearing. Maybe they’re disappearing a little faster than what we thought,” she told the Record.

Two years ago, the city installed a temporary playbox at Westminster Pier Park – it was a trial run of sorts, according to Elphinstone.

During the trial, the city realized that keeping the box stocked was the biggest challenge, and that’s what other cities with similar initiatives have observed as well, she added.

“Our solution to that was to try and appeal to the community for donations of good condition toys like balls and toys and such,” he said. “We’re really pushing hard to really try and get the neighbourhoods to take some ownership over the box so that we’re not just constantly buying new toys for the box.”

The new boxes will be replenished as often as possible, but Elphinstone wants to see the community step up and add a couple items if they notice the box is empty.

She’d also like to remind everyone that the toys inside the box are for borrowing, not keeping and they should be returned to their box when not in use. If the toys keep disappearing, eventually the city will run out items to refill the boxes, Elphinstone said.

“We’ve got all the supplies here and once they’re done, they’re done, and I don’t know what that’ll mean as far as the future of the program goes, but we’re not looking that far ahead yet. We’re just hoping that the community stands up,” she added.

Items in the boxes include basketballs, soccer balls, flying discs, jump ropes, hula hoops and other outdoor equipment. If you’ve got any good condition balls, sand toys and other equipment, just drop it off.

The boxes are secured with a combination lock, you can get the code at www.newwestcity.ca/healthy-community.

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© New West Record
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