Surrey’s Salish Secondary when it was under construction. (File photo: Sam Anderson)

Developers should pay more to help buy land for new schools, Surrey trustee says

Terry Allen says ‘developers are getting off scott-free,’ province urged to review school acquisition fee

The Surrey Board of Education is officially asking B.C.’s education minister to review the amount of money developers are required to pay in School Site Acquisition Charges.

These are fees developers pay that are used to help pay for land to build new schools on.

Trustee Terry Allen said the fees haven’t changed since 2000.

“The developers are getting off scott-free,” he said. “If you really want to make change, maybe it would slow down development if they were having to pay a fair amount for school boards to acquire land to put children in classrooms.”

SQUEEZING SURREY STUDENTS IN: The causes and impacts of overcrowding in city schools

Allen, who is the chair of the budget committee, said that this year, just $1.7 million has been raised through the fund.

The district’s 10-year capital plan, meantime, requests $207 million for land acquisitions.

“I just sat there and thought, ‘These figures don’t jive.’ This is bizarre,” he said. “As a school board, we think it’s time to become proactive. We’re the largest school district in the province. It’s time to make a change. It’s time to make developers pay fair value for the land, for the development of schools.

“This is wrong – totally wrong – that people can develop land without any consequences as to where we’re going to put children in school,” he added. “If they start to open up areas in Port Kells, where are we going to build? The cost of land now is out of reality. We’re trying to buy land all the time at a reasonable price and we can’t get it.”

READ ALSO: ‘Not much has changed’: Why overcrowding in Surrey schools has persisted for decades

SEE MORE: Surrey Schools Coalition urges province to set up growth fund to pay for portables

At its Sept. 11 meeting, Surrey Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution tabled by Allen asking Education Minister Rob Fleming to review the School Site Acquisition Charge assessed on new developments.

Under Bill 35, the Local Government Act and the School Act require that the Ministry of Education, school boards and local governments work together in planning for new schools and in administering development charges to assist in funding new school sites.

The Now-Leader has requested comment from the Ministry of Education.

SEE ALSO: How teens grapple with growth at Surrey’s most crowded high school

READ ALSO: Why school portables are a ‘way of life’ in Surrey



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