British Columbia

Surrey gets funding for more classrooms

The B.C. government says it will spend nearly $74.2M to create about 2,700 new spaces for students in Surrey in response to growing concerns about overcrowding and overuse of school portables.

$74.2M will go towards 2,700 new spaces for students in Surrey

Premier Christy Clark announced Friday morning almost $100 million to fund six projects to create more student seats in Surrey. (Christer Waara/CBC)

The B.C. government says it will spend nearly $74.2 million to create about 2,700 new spaces for students in Surrey in response to growing concerns about overcrowding and overuse of school portables.

The Surrey School District will contribute $25.3 million as well, making the grand total close to $100 million.

"We are so grateful for the timely response in our school district and 2,700 will go a long way in terms of relieving the pressure that we feel," said Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner at a press conference at Panorama Park Elementary School.

Critics have been raising concerns about overcrowded Surrey classrooms for months. The school board even called on the city to halt residential development, and the city pointed the finger at the provincial government to fund the construction of more schools.

The new money will go towards these projects:

  • 600 new student seats for children at Sullivan, Woodward Hill and Panorama Park elementary by September 2017.
  • A new 1,500-seat high school, Grandview Heights Secondary, slated to open 2020.
  • A new 605-seat Claytown North Elementary slated to open 2019.
  • Purchasing land for a new elementary school in Port Kells.
A portable at Sunnyside Elementary School in Surrey, where the temporary buildings have been used for decades. (CBC)

"We've stayed focused on controlling government spending, growing our economy, making sure there are jobs for British Columbians — that means more are coming, helping us grow," said Premier Christy Clark.

"That's why we have the ability to invest in the things that matter to people most."

But the B.C. NDP says the funding is too little, too late and this announcement is a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

"There's still going to be 4,500 kids that are going to be putting their entire education career in portables ... 2,700 spaces doesn't even represent a dent in the challenge we face in Surrey today," said Opposition leader John Horgan.

Surrey's student population has increased by 18 per cent since 2001.

Surrey welcomes about 1,000 new students every year and already has 275 portables.

With files from Jesse Johnston