Surrey Board of Education chair Laurie Larsen and Mayor Doug McCallum listen as Minister of Education Rob Fleming speaks on Thursday to the construction launch of the city’s newest school, Edgewood Drive Elementary, in South Surrey. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Frozen, but determined, start to new $33-million South Surrey school

Education minister, councillors, trustees launch Edgewood Drive Elementary construction

Below-freezing temperatures meant no ground was actually broken at the ground-breaking of Surrey’s newest elementary school in South Surrey Thursday morning, but government and school officials donned blue hard hats and posed with shovels poised, nonetheless, to mark the occasion.

“I don’t know how we’re going to dig shovels into this frozen ground, but we’ll make it look good,” Minister of Education Rob Fleming quipped as he gathered for a photo op at the site where Edgewood Drive Elementary is slated to open in September 2021.

Funding for the 655-seat school – which is to be built in the 16600-block of 23 Avenue, directly behind the City of Surrey’s new South Surrey Operations Centre – was first announced in December 2017.

At that time, it was budgeted at $24 million, however, “significant” increases to construction costs – district officials announced in November that Edgewood was among five school projects delayed by too-high bids – resulted in the tab being pushed to $33 million.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Over-budget bids cause delay of five Surrey school projects

“While this budget is above what was previously approved, due to extreme construction cost escalation in 2018, government and the Surrey School District moved quickly to fund the difference to ensure students could be in their new school as soon as possible,” a news release notes.

Fleming said Thursday that some of the cost increases “are related to who’s in the White House down south and tariffs on construction products that are driving up costs.”

Labour supply is also a factor, he said.

The contract for Edgewood was awarded to DGS Construction in January.

READ MORE: Surrey School District maps potential catchment areas

The ground-breaking follows the recent construction launch of a 12-classroom addition at nearby Pacific Heights Elementary, as well as that underway two blocks north of the Edgewood site for a new, 1,500-seat Grandview Heights Secondary. The high school is anticipated to open in 2021, while the elementary addition is to be ready next year.

Funding in the amount of $28.95 million has also been approved for the purchase of land for a new elementary school in the Sunnyside neighbourhood.

And, work has begun on the new Maddaugh Road elementary school, a $34.1-million project that is to open to 605 Clayton-area students in 2021.

Board of Education chair Laurie Laursen said that construction on two more South Surrey schools is expected to start this spring.

The Edgewood and Pacific Heights spaces “will help ease current and future enrolment pressures on nearby Sunnyside, Rosemary Heights and Morgan elementary schools,” Laursen said.

“As you see, we’re moving forward quite rapidly now.”

Surrey currently has approximately 7,000 students learning in 335 portables.

Fleming pointed to the “backlog we inherited” from the previous government and changes in the construction market as key challenges in catching up with the school need.

“Even buying land, there was not enough sites acquired in Surrey,” he said. “We’re having to advance on multiple fronts.”

He described these efforts as “amongst the most important things that our government is working on.”

“I can see the houses just coming over the hill, so we better get on this thing real quickly,” he said of Edgewood.

“This is exactly what this community needs and deserves.”

Fleming noted that the majority of portables that were added last year were “related to the restoration of adult basic education in Surrey.”

He also noted that the combined number of seats being added by school projects currently underway or proceeding to construction “would eliminate every portable in Surrey if we could do them right now.”

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum described Thursday’s ground-breaking as “really good news,” and said Edgewood “lies at the heart of what we mean by smart development.”

Thursday’s ground-breaking was held immediately following a ‘summit’ meeting that took place between Fleming, Surrey council members and Board of Education trustees at the operations centre.



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Minister of Education Rob Fleming (left) chats with Surrey Board of Education chair Laurie Laursen following Thursday’s ground-breaking event in South Surrey. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Minister of Education Rob Fleming poses with Surrey South MLA Stephanie Cadieux and school trustees at Thursday’s groundbreaking in South Surrey. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Just Posted

City shifts proposed transit station to King George after cancellation of LRT

Council to consider Newton Town Centre plan in fall

VIDEO: Plane makes forced landing on Highway 17 in Surrey

Police say no one was injured and no damage to aircraft or vehicles

The struggle for space inside Surrey’s elementary schools

SECOND IN A SERIES: A look at how overcrowding impacts student life

Nearly 200 motorcycles take off from Cloverdale for Brenden’s Ride

Annual fundraiser supports programs that empower people with disabilities

Surrey Schools estimates $350K for tampon, pad dispenser installation

District aims to have equipment set up by October or November

VIDEO: First Nations, developer call for return and protection of sacred B.C. burial site

Dozens of First Nations leaders gather on grassy plateau to call on action by provincial government

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

LETTER: British Columbia’s forest industry crisis being made worse

Andrew Wilkinson warns of regulatory overload by John Horgan’s NDP

Convicted B.C. child abductor Randall Hopley back in custody 6 months after release

Correctional Services Canada could not provide further details due to privacy concerns

Alleged driver of semi-truck in fatal Burnaby hit-and-run identified

No charges have been laid and police say the driver is cooperating with the investigation

Bears have killed 17 people in B.C. since 1986

Number of bear complaints and bears killed rose sharply during same period

Edmonton police seek owners of items possibly stolen in Lower Mainland

Three people are facing a total of 130 charges after being arrested in Edmonton on Jan. 25

Victoria man wins record-breaking Human Rights Tribunal case

After 14 years Chris Hughes won a case after facing discrimination for depression

Most Read