BC Education Minister Rob Fleming. (File photo)

BC Education Minister Rob Fleming. (File photo)

‘A number’ of school projects to be announced in Surrey

Rob Fleming says parents ‘have reason’ to be optimistic

The province’s education minister says Surrey can expect “a number” of school infrastructure projects to be announced in the new year.

Rob Fleming told Peace Arch News this month that the government is investigating a bundling approach to building new schools and seismic upgrade projects in the Surrey region, which is something “that has not been done before.”

“We think it will help do things more quickly. It’s a competitive market right now to generate the interest,” Fleming said. “A $10-million project might not get the kind of bids you’d want, but if it’s bundled together with one or two other projects…”

He said the province fully funded a year-round project office in Surrey, which is devoted solely to the procurement and tendering of new school projects.

The Surrey School District has a five-year, $517 million capital plan to expand or build 22 new schools in the region.

Before the May 9 provincial election, the then-governing BC Liberals pledged $217 million to build new schools in Surrey, but new schools required up to 50 per cent local funding.

Fleming said his NDP government determined that the 50 per cent cost sharing initiative was “just unrealistic and the source of gridlock in getting portables reduced and new schools built.”

“The last government and that ($217 million) announcement really stumbled on their insistence that Surrey pay 50 per cent of the cost of those schools.”

“It was basically hitting a red light and not proceeding.”

Fleming said the province worked with the Surrey School District to “identify barriers” that are preventing funding for new schools, which he said included everything from acquiring land to working with city government to get permits and approvals more quickly through city hall.

“There’s a number of items on the table, including getting funding from the ministry more quickly, that are going to speed up the construction of schools in Surrey,” he said.

Fleming said the government is sticking to the objective of removing portables from the Surrey School District within the next four years.

“I think the major correction that our government is undertaking from the previous government is not just announcing, but to break ground and get projects underway and completed more quickly.”

He said young parents “have reason” to be optimistic, and that he appreciates their concerns.

“The previous government was happy to take all of the taxes and economic growth benefits from a fast growing dynamic economic region like Surrey, but failed to adequately invest in critical infrastructure – like schools – which are a key part of building communities.”

On Dec. 7, the province announced a $9-million expansion project to Pacific Heights Elementary and a new $24 million, 655-seat Grandview Heights elementary school, which is expected to open in time for the 2020-2021 school year.

Fleming was in Surrey Dec. 15 to announce that two Surrey elementary schools will receive $10.4 million between them in seismic upgrades.

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, with classrooms expected to be completed by September that year and the gym a month later.

Just Posted

Sergeant Mike Sanchez of the Surrey Gang Enforcement Team speaking with students. (Photo: RCMP).
Surrey RCMP’s anti-gang program goes virtual amid COVID-19 pandemic

Presentations aimed at youth available to be booked

(Clockwise, from top-left) Brenda DeJong, Carol Jones, Marcia Strang, Cathy Collis and Mark East star in the upcoming Sidekick Players Zoom presentation of the Norm Foster play “Halfway There,” directed by Carroll Lefebvre, on May 22, 2021. (Submitted photos)
Delta’s Sidekick Players continue ‘Foster Zoom Fest’ with ‘Halfway There’

Tsawwassen-based theatre company hosting another online performance on Saturday, May 22

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)
Discussions about Surrey-owned land in Langley should be behind closed doors, councillors say

That’s what Councillors Brenda Locke, Jack Hundial and former Surrey mayor Bob Bose say

White Rock RCMP, January 2021. (Tracy Holmes photo)
UPDATE: White Rock RCMP investigate ‘person-involved’ collision

Youth injured in May 13 incident was longboarding at time, police say

Mike Farnworth, pre-pandemic. (File photo)
Surrey Police recruitment not distracting cops from shootings, Farnworth says

‘That’s simply not the case,’ Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth told the Now-Leader on Friday

An animated Gordie Hogg introduces his ‘Community Connections’ videos. (YouTube screenshot)
Community Connections: Gordie Hogg speaks with Doug Stone

Former mayor, MP began posting conversations on YouTube in June

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Mandarin Garden in Abbotsford had two event tents set up for outdoor dining. One of the tents, valued at more than $5,000, was stolen early Friday morning (May 14). (Submitted photo)
UPDATE: Dining tent stolen from Abbotsford restaurant is located

Owner says it would have cost more than $5,000 to replace the rented event tent

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Most Read