Premier commits to 2,700 new student spots in Surrey, ignores two of five priority projects

Province commits to a new Grandview secondary, new Clayton North elementary as well as "rapid expansions" to three Newton schools.

Premier Christy Clark talks with students at Surrey's Panorama Park Elementary before announcing 2

SURREY — Premier Christy Clark visited Surrey’s Panorama Park Elementary school Friday to announce 2,700 more student spaces for the overcrowded district.

The spots include 600 new seats through “rapid expansion projects” at Sullivan Woodward Hill and Panorama Park elementary schools.

The remaining 2,100 student spaces will be created through two new schools – a Grandview Heights secondary (expected to be completed by the end of 2020) and a Clayton North elementary (expected to be completed by the end of 2019).

The province also committed to buy new land for a new elementary school in Port Kells.

The projects come with a price tag of about $100 million. The province will foot about $74 million of the bill, with the district shelving out the rest.

“Families are making a choice to call Surrey home – and that’s driving incredible growth along with our strong economy,” said Clark. “We’ve worked together with the Surrey school district to identify key projects and move them ahead quickly to make sure as many classrooms as possible are built for Surrey families and students.”

What wasn’t mentioned at Friday’s announcement was that the commitment leaves out two of the district’s top five priority projects – a second elementary in Clayton and an elementary in Grandview.

The district is so overcrowded some schools are on modified bell schedules and it utilizes roughly 300 portables in lieu of proper classroom space. Parents with children in particularly overcrowded schools often complain of rationed playground time and difficulty accessing gyms and libraries.

Last month, the Surrey School Board called on city hall to freeze development until schools can catch up and parents in Newton have been fighting for the same, as well as pushing the province to come forward with funding immediately.

Friday’s announcement builds on 1,870 seats already under construction in Surrey including work on a new Clayton North Secondary and additions to Adams Road, Morgan and Rosemary Heights elementaries.

Asked if these kind of announcements would be needed fairly regularly to keep up with growth, Clark said, “that is certainly what the MLAs behind me tell me needs to happen and I have to say I agree with them.

“This school district is unlike any other in the province. It’s growing faster than anywhere else and it’s one of the very few that actually is growing,” remarked the Premier. “I think we’re just going to have to find a new way of making sure that there are seats for when the kids arrive rather than some of the way we seem to be doing it now, which seems to be a little bit after the fact.”

Mayor Linda Hepner welcomed the funding, adding it will “help ease the strain we are seeing.”

School board chair Shawn Wilson said, “knowing relief is in sight is really what’s important to us.”

SEE MORE: Parents, NDP protest Surrey school crowding

SEE ALSO: Parents gain traction in school fight

Just Posted

Surrey RCMP need help finding missing 41-year-old man

Todd Schneider was last seen at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 19 in the 13500-block of Crestview Drive

VIDEO: North Delta elementary school closed following stabbing that left cop, woman in serious condition

An off-duty police officer and a woman were injured outside of the school Wednesday afternoon

New West mayor says Surrey won’t be left out in transit 10-year plan

Jonathan Cote one of two speakers at luncheon focusing on transportation, land use planning

UPDATE: Missing Surrey snowshoer found dead on Mt. Seymour

North Shore Rescue resumed its search today after efforts were temporarily halted Tuesday due to snowstorm

Millennial men least likely to have a family doctor: Statistics Canada

Report found more women have primary care physicians, compared with men

70% of Canadians agree with mandatory vaccines for children: poll

The debate for pro and anti vaccinations has heated up after a measles outbreak in Vancouver

5 to start your day

Two people are in critical condition after stabbing, searchers recover body of missing snowshoer and more

‘A little baloney’ in PM’s claim about solicitor-client privilege on SNC-Lavalin

The Conservatives and NDP want Trudeau to waive that privilege so Wilson-Raybould can offer her side of the story

Proposed edible pot rules are wasteful, would leave products tasteless: critics

When Canada legalized weed last fall, it only allowed fresh or dried bud, oil, plants and seeds

Samsung folding phone is different – but also almost $2,000

But most analysts see a limited market for foldable-screen phones

Alcohol policies fizzle for Canadian governments as harms overflow: reports

About 80 per cent of Canadians drink, and most enjoy a drink or two

Most Read