A Vancouver School Board trustee says the provincial government isn't helping deal with the city's shifting demographics.
The VSB planned to build new schools in areas such as Yaletown and UBC, predicting student populations would grow rapidly as new condo developments opened up, Ken Denike told CBC News on Friday morning.
"We put it as our highest priority," he said, noting that the provincial government refused to approve the plans.
"Last year, they did virtually nothing, I think there [were] four schools built in the province that were not seismic [replacements], so it was not considered to be a matter of great importance throughout the province," Denike said.
Some schools in new neighbourhoods like Elsie Roy Elementary in Yaletown or University Hill Secondary near UBC are overcrowded, while others in older neighbourhoods have empty desks.
On Sunday, parents braved the rain and cold, lining up overnight outside Elsie Roy in hopes of registering their children for a limited number of kindergarten spaces.
But despite the projections of growth, the province reduced the size of Elsie Roy before it was built, Denike said.
"We had originally proposed for that school to be...in excess of 400 students for Elsie Roy. The government cut that back to about 280," he said.
"They wanted to see the students there before we could get the spaces...The result of that is [what] we're seeing today."
The board currently has a site ready for a new school in nearby False Creek, but that is also waiting for provincial approval and funding, Denike said.
Parents react to UBC proposal
More than 50 people were at the Vancouver School Board office Thursday night for the release of the first phase of a review of educational facilities in the Dunbar and University of British Columbia areas.
Among the proposals was a plan to shut down University Hill Secondary School and move it to a new location on the UBC Campus.
Part of the plan would involve closing the Queen Elizabeth annex, turning University Hill Secondary into an elementary school, then buying a previous Nation Research Council building from UBC to turn into a secondary school for about $30 million.
With the first meeting to consult parents planned for the weekend, District Parent Advisory Council chair Julie Ann Doctor said she feels rushed.
"We've got exactly two school days for elementary school parents to get informed, find childcare, and get to a meeting," Doctor said.
The NRC building is the reason parents aren't being given the time to examine the proposal, she said.
"UBC has given the school district exactly five weeks to make a decision on the NRC building. That's not enough time to do any sort of meaningful consultation with parents."
School Superintendent Chris Kelly said the board is doing its best with what it has available.
"It's not our intent to deliver upheaval to parents. That's something we would choose to avoid," Kelly said.
If the board wants to make use of the NRC building, it has until March 11, officials said. After that, the UBC development board will consider other offers.