EDITORIAL: Showdown over schools shaping up

It's easy to see what one of the main provincial election issues in Surrey will be come next May.

B.C. voters go to the polls in a year, but it’s not difficult to predict what a major election issue will be – at least in Surrey.

The perpetual overcrowding of schools has once again reached a boiling point in the city.

Parents have long complained about packed classrooms and perennial portables.

And year after year, school trustees have dutifully balanced their budgets, while firmly (and with admirable restraint) demanding that Surrey get more of the provincial pie when it comes to funding.

Surrey is, after all, the largest school district in the province and one of the few areas to see growing enrolment.

In fact, as Trustee Laurae McNally notes, the overflow from existing overcrowded schools could immediately fill 30 new schools.

As a result, last month the Surrey Board of Education unanimously voted to urge the City of Surrey to halt all development in fast-growing regions of the city until schools can catch up.

The mayor is understandably reluctant to put the brakes on this particular economic engine, so round and round it goes.

Now, developers are starting to feel the pressure. Redekop Homes heard the wrath of area residents on Monday at a public meeting over a townhome development slated for Panorama Ridge. Parents are upset about the negative impact the project will have on local classrooms.

Surrey Coun. Barbara Steele predicts that going forward, any large development in Surrey will be met with opposition from concerned parents.

But it’s hard to fault those trying to provide  much-needed housing. In fact, it’s wrong to pit parents, trustees and councillors against one another.

As Steele notes: “The provision of schools belongs squarely at the feet of the province.”

Many people will remember this come election day next May.


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