SURREY — Two Surrey elementary schools will receive $10.4 million between them in seismic upgrades, Education Minister Rob Fleming announced Friday.
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 and the classrooms are expected to be completed by September that year and the gym, a month later.
Fleming made the announcent at Mary Jane Shannon, flanked by school children.
“The new government has made it a priority to expedite and improve the face of seismic investments in Surrey and right across British Columbia,” he told reporters, students and teachers in the 59-year-old school’s gymnasium Friday afternoon.
It’s all to “ensure our schools are indeed safe,” he added.
“Nothing is more important to me than the safety of students in B.C., and making this investment to ease the minds of hundreds of families in Surrey is an easy decision to make. We know we have more work to do in Surrey and throughout the province, and we are working with school districts and local governments to accelerate funding for seismic upgrades at every school that needs it.”
Friday’s announcement affects roughly 850 students. To date, 21 of 28 “high risk” schools in Surrey have undergone seismic upgrading.
Surrey Board of Education chair Laurie Larsen said the announcement “represents a milestone.”
She noted Mary Jane Shannon and Bear Creek elementary schools are the only two in Surrey with the “most vulnerable designation for seismic risk.”
“We are very very pleased to see these schools will soon be upgraded,” she said. “After these projects are complete we will have just five more schools that need funding for seismic upgrades, however they are all in the lower risk categories.”
— Tom Zytaruk (@tomzytaruk) December 15, 2017
Last week, the province announced $24 million for a new elementary school in South Surrey’s Grandview Heights neighbourhood, and a $9-million expansion to Pacific Heights.
Meantime, Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner welcomed the funding announcement.
“With the demands that have been placed on our school system, these projects will help address the overcrowded classrooms and the proliferation of portables in Surrey,” Hepner said in a release. “With the tremendous growth that Surrey has been experiencing, the infrastructure of our school system has been sorely left behind. I want to commend Premier (John) Horgan and Minister of Education, Rob Fleming for not only recognizing the need in Surrey but acting on addressing the issues of portables and overcrowding that have plagued Surrey schools for far too long.”
— with files by Amy Reid