July 11, 2014 5:12 pm

Edmonton’s Green Shack program continues despite budget cuts

Watch above: Thanks to city and community support, the Green Shack program, a summer staple for many neighbourhoods and families, is back.

EDMONTON – The City says the resilience of the Green Shack program, despite budget cuts, proves Edmonton’s value for community programs.

The Green Shack program is a free activity for kids aged six to 12 that focuses on community interaction and outdoor play. Program supervisors lead kids through crafts and playground games at the 171 Green Shack locations throughout Edmonton.

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“The kids love to come here, they need that interaction at the park,” said Sonya Harriott, parent and community league member. “It’s important for them to have something different to do and have some different scenery.”

Last year, the province cut the Summer Temporary Enrolment program, leaving Green Shacks with a $275 000 shortfall. The program’s livelihood was threatened as community planners discussed shortening its length and discontinuing activities in less popular areas.

READ MORE: Alberta budget means changes to communities’ Green Shack program

Instead, Edmontonians voiced their opinion and urged the city to keep the Green Shack program alive. Council eventually voted to replace the missing funds with municipal dollars, along with financial support from 100 community groups and the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues.

Mayor Don Iveson is a supporter of the Green Shack program and says it’s important to fund programs like this, especially in neighbourhoods where parents don’t have a lot of options.

“We know how important the Green Shack program is,” Iveson said. “That’s why the city put more money in after the provincial funding that supported the program previously was withdrawn. Obviously our resources are more limited than they used to be, but we do believe in the program.”

With the help of Edmontonians’ support, the Green Shack program has managed to overcome budget cuts and in fact has more playground programs in place than it did in 2013.

“We heard from Edmontonians that they really value the Green Shack program,” Recreation Programs Manager Chris Heywood said. “When there was a thought that Green Shacks were no longer going to be a feature at neighbourhood parks, there was a real swell of support from the public.”

Green Shack has now combined with Pop Up Play, a similar city program that operates in newer communities that may not have a playground or other recreation facilities.

With sustainable funding and a change in the program model, it seems as though the Green Shack program is here to stay.

For more information on the program, visit the City of Edmonton’s website.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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