British Columbia

'Schools are already full, bursting': parents campaign for new downtown school

Plans for the Coal Harbour Elementary school were drawn up in the 1990's, now parents are calling on the provincial government to approve funding for it.

Some Vancouver parents are calling on province to approve new elementary school

Some downtown Vancouver parents are calling on the government to build a new school in the area. (Syda Productions/Shutterstock)

Some downtown Vancouver parents are pushing the newly-elected NDP government to build an elementary school to relieve overcrowding.

"Schools are already full, bursting,"  said Andrea Jacques, chair of the Lord Roberts Parent Advisory Committee. 

"We need a new elementary school in downtown. The plans are drawn up for Coal Harbour, so please fund it," she said.

Plans for the $22-million Coal Harbour Elementary School, which would be built next to the community centre, were made in the 1990's in anticipation of growth in the neighbourhood.

In its capital plan, the Vancouver School Board has made it a priority to build the school, which has a capacity for 320 students. The board notes the area's three elementary schools were utilized at 104 per cent in 2016.

"We are full to capacity," said Jacques, whose son is in Grade 4. 

"The music room is gone. Kids are eating lunch in their classes now because the lunchroom had to be turned into classroom space," she said.

Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert has been campaigning for years for the school to be built. 

"The kids need it, the neighbourhood needs it," Herbert said.

Childcare space part of project

If built, the City of Vancouver would also build childcare spaces and non-market housing as part of the project. 

Herbert, an NDP MLA, said he is hopeful there will be movement now that his government is in office.

"The minister has assured me he wants to act. I'm excited. It's a long time coming. I can't wait for the day I can say we are building that school, because we've been waiting too long," he said. 

Minister of Education Rob Fleming said he is committed to "making significant capital investments in fast growing school districts." 

But the ministry of education provided no date on when —or if — the province may fund the school.