A Surrey city councillor is calling for schools and daycare centres to be built into new towers as they are developed along the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain route to help wean the city off its “addiction” to portables.
Coun. Linda Annis says the city needs more schools, not portables, and while Surrey is expected to get 400 more portables this year that’s no long-term solution.
“Surrey has become the school portable capital of the country, and that’s not the sort of distinction I want for our city or families,” she said.
The councillor says the City of Surrey, school board and provincial government need to “get creative.”
“One of the solutions I want us to consider is building schools into the developments and towers already being planned for the SkyTrain route along Fraser Highway,” Annis said. “Imagine having a school and daycare in a cluster of condo towers where the walk to school is a short elevator ride.”
Bree-Anna Berman, president of the Fleetwood Community Association, said incorporating daycares into apartment buildings has “already been done” in her community.
“Basically anything around the six storey and larger from our community association standpoint is required to put a daycare in, that’s one of our check boxes,” Berman said. “We have one currently being done and one in the works.”
Schools, she added, is a “different conversation,” being “more of a provincial thing.”
But if you don’t have another solution, she said, “you absolutely have to be looking into that as a solution. We’ve been told Fleetwood requires about eight new schools with the new land-use plan and the density coming, so, I mean, you have to start somewhere and those are legitimate conversations. And if the schools aren’t being put on the land use plan that hey, this is the sites for a school, we need to come up with other solutions, and that seems to be kind-of the main one, is to put them in towers.”
Annis notes that nearly 200,000 people are expected to reside along the corridor.
“Whether it’s building schools into new residential towers and developments, public-private partnerships that get schools built faster, or building schools that are multi-storey so they require less land, but take advantage of local parks and recreation centres, we need to look at how we can be more creative to deliver more schools,” Annis said. “There’s nothing saying we can’t do something innovative and different along the SkyTrain route, particularly if it ensures we have the right number of schools so we can stop this addiction to portables.”
Annis said Surrey consistently underestimates the number of new students flooding into this city every year.
“Frankly, we’re playing catch up and we’re not doing a very good job at it.”
“We know the SkyTrain route is coming, we know thousands of new families are going to live along the route, and we know we’re already short of schools,” Annis added. “The development of the new SkyTrain route is a terrific opportunity to think outside of the box and look at innovative school solutions that fit the sort of new developments we’re going to see along Fraser Highway that will be shaped by SkyTrain.”