ARICHAT: Council is considering a request from a local school to help with a playground.

During the regular monthly meeting of Richmond Municipal Council on October 23 in Arichat, École Beau-Port requested a type 1 infrastructure grant in the amount of $5,000.

Richmond director of finance, Jason Martell told council the grant is to finance the construction of an organic playground in front of the school and adjacent to the current playground. This project is a partnership between the school, Société Vitalité Isle Madame and the daycare group.

The grant will help offset the cost of new fencing in a playground that does not feature slides and swings but offers children an authentic, natural experience, Martell noted.

Because of the new grant policy passed by council in June 2018 that any applicant must own or maintain control of the assets that are being operated, Martell explained that the original grant request with the society as the applicant could not be brought to council because the land is owned by École Beau-Port. As a result, the application was revised with the school as the applicant.

The other issue is that the school is a non-profit and unable to provide proof of Registry of Joint Stocks, as mandated by the municipality’s grant policy Martell said.

Martell said this was brought to council because of the “unusual circumstance.”

“In my time here, in the last four-and-a-half years, we haven’t seen schools, specifically, apply for grants,” the finance director told council.

Martell asked for council’s direction on grant requests from schools.

“There are several schools in the county, so either schools are generally allowed to apply for this type of grant money or they’re not,” Martell said.

Richmond CAO Kent MacIntyre pointed out that this application is made further unique because Arichat does not currently have a functioning public playground. The CAO said he was told the playgrounds in front and behind the school would be open for public use during non-school hours.

District 1 councillor James Goyetche noted that council previously approved $10,000 for the redevelopment of a playground along Veteran’s Memorial Drive in Arichat but given the good condition of the playgrounds at the school and the fact they don’t need much repair, this is a good deal.

“I think this would be value for us to pay $5,000 and still be ahead of the game,” Goyetche told council.

District 4 councillor Gilbert Boucher cautioned that council could be “opening up a doorway here” for schools to apply for items other than playgrounds.

Newly elected Richmond Warden Jason MacLean received council’s approval to obtain written confirmation from École Beau-Port that public use of the playground will be allowed.

“Whenever you’re opening something like that, something that’s new, obviously there could be some follow-up from some of the different schools or organizations but it’s a good cause, playgrounds are something that can be accessible for the public so anything that’s going to help the kids get active and get outside, then we’re all for it.”