BC Education Minister Rob Fleming. (File photo)

‘A number’ of school projects to be announced in Surrey

Rob Fleming says parents ‘have reason’ to be optimistic

The province’s education minister says Surrey can expect “a number” of school infrastructure projects to be announced in the new year.

Rob Fleming told Peace Arch News this month that the government is investigating a bundling approach to building new schools and seismic upgrade projects in the Surrey region, which is something “that has not been done before.”

“We think it will help do things more quickly. It’s a competitive market right now to generate the interest,” Fleming said. “A $10-million project might not get the kind of bids you’d want, but if it’s bundled together with one or two other projects…”

He said the province fully funded a year-round project office in Surrey, which is devoted solely to the procurement and tendering of new school projects.

The Surrey School District has a five-year, $517 million capital plan to expand or build 22 new schools in the region.

Before the May 9 provincial election, the then-governing BC Liberals pledged $217 million to build new schools in Surrey, but new schools required up to 50 per cent local funding.

Fleming said his NDP government determined that the 50 per cent cost sharing initiative was “just unrealistic and the source of gridlock in getting portables reduced and new schools built.”

“The last government and that ($217 million) announcement really stumbled on their insistence that Surrey pay 50 per cent of the cost of those schools.”

“It was basically hitting a red light and not proceeding.”

Fleming said the province worked with the Surrey School District to “identify barriers” that are preventing funding for new schools, which he said included everything from acquiring land to working with city government to get permits and approvals more quickly through city hall.

“There’s a number of items on the table, including getting funding from the ministry more quickly, that are going to speed up the construction of schools in Surrey,” he said.

Fleming said the government is sticking to the objective of removing portables from the Surrey School District within the next four years.

“I think the major correction that our government is undertaking from the previous government is not just announcing, but to break ground and get projects underway and completed more quickly.”

He said young parents “have reason” to be optimistic, and that he appreciates their concerns.

“The previous government was happy to take all of the taxes and economic growth benefits from a fast growing dynamic economic region like Surrey, but failed to adequately invest in critical infrastructure – like schools – which are a key part of building communities.”

On Dec. 7, the province announced a $9-million expansion project to Pacific Heights Elementary and a new $24 million, 655-seat Grandview Heights elementary school, which is expected to open in time for the 2020-2021 school year.

Fleming was in Surrey Dec. 15 to announce that two Surrey elementary schools will receive $10.4 million between them in seismic upgrades.

Mary Jane Shannon elementary in Guildford, where the announcement was made, will receive $7.33 million to have its two-storey classroom block and its gymnasium upgraded, with construction to begin in the fall of 2018.

And Bear Creek elementary in Newton will receive $3.11 million for seismic upgrades to the school’s gymnasium and west block of classrooms. Construction is set to begin in July 2018, with classrooms expected to be completed by September that year and the gym a month later.

Just Posted

FOCUS: Cloverdale group putting Surrey city council ‘to the test’

‘We need to see more infrastructure starting up,’ Mike Bola says

With ‘Night Watch,’ a former newspaper editor finds his thrills at Surrey theatre

‘I’m loving it,’ director Lance Peverley says about his work in community theatre

Surrey reviewing clothing bin safety in wake of deaths

City staff have been directed to review ‘safety precautions’ and an outright ban

Big year for construction in Surrey’s City Centre: mayor

McCallum says about 16 high-rise projects currently in ‘different phases’ of planning process

Council calls on province to make deadly Surrey intersection safer

Development application sparks discussion about ‘dangerous’ Highway 10 and 132nd Street intersection

VIDEO: Delta police officer swims 12 hours for a good cause

DPD Const. Kelly Seib was raising funds for a young North Delta woman’s brain cancer treatment

Millennial Money: Don’t let Instagram envy get you into debt

A full 48 per cent of U.S. households have credit card debt

Jury debates fate of man accused of killing 12-year-old B.C. girl 40 years ago

Police allege Garry Handlen told a cop how he abducted, sexually assaulted and strangled Monica Jack in May 1978

Letters on way to all homeowners in B.C. speculation tax communities

Property owners have to register to avoid vacant-home tax

New orca calf in Salish Sea ‘healthy and active’

Birth cause for celebration but things still dire genetically, expert says

Good Samaritan rescues cat found in heaps of garbage at B.C. landfill

The cat was abandoned and left to die at the Foothills Boulevard Regional Landfill, the BC SPCA says

Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna home to Canada’s most expensive rentals: report

According to PadMapper, units in larger B.C. cities cost $1,300 to more than $3,000

Former MP Svend Robinson wants to return to politics

Robinson is expected to be acclaimed as the NDP candidate in the riding of Burnaby North-Seymour

Most Read