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LETTER: District ignoring neighbourhood’s safety concerns over new school in Surrey

School board seems to be in rush to build elementary quickly
The school, located near 148 Street and 58 Avenue, will be called Snokomish Elementary. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

The Editor,

Almost two years ago, our neighbourhood was informed that Surrey Schools had acquired land parcels on 148 Street just north of 58 Avenue to build a new elementary school to be named Snokomish school.

We were invited to comment on the proposal and there were opportunities to respond through email, on Zoom meetings and in a web-based public information session.

As time passed, it became apparent the school district was interested only in positive feedback and its administrators were proficient at suppressing any negative feedback.

So, the concerns our neighbourhood put forward concerning safety, which were driven by a safety audit published by ICBC, and resulting traffic gridlock that will forever negatively impact our neighbourhood, were ignored.

When we got louder, they stopped communicating with us.

After months of angst, we submitted a formal complaint which the district sat on for two months and then completely ignored in their written response, thanking us for our concern and advising that they were proceeding with construction as originally planned.

So, we approached the Ministry of Education, which advised that Surrey Schools has the autonomy to do as they please, even though safety concerns were being ignored.

Next, we approached ICBC, which passed the buck to the City of Surrey. The city is currently reviewing the application for a building permit and Surrey Engineering has advised that they are not in a position to require Surrey Schools to respond to the neighbours who after more than 20 months, have not been informed how safety concerns are being resolved, before a building permit is issued.

Our next step will be a delegation to council to ask that the permit be paused until the neighbours are provided with a substantive response to all seven safety related questions published by ICBC and posed to the school district in February but remaining unanswered.

Does this sound like a community minded school board, or is this a school board less concerned about safety and simply in a rush to build a school quickly to solve overcrowding?

Bob Oliver, Surrey

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