A South Surrey mom is hoping to get the wheels turning on an expansion of Elgin Park Secondary’s automotive shop.
Lisa Parker toured the school’s shop in late May with shop instructor Johan Mynhardt – after her 15-year-old son and automotive student, Jordan Shaw, approached her with concerns about the space his class had to work with.
“There is no overhead door. Just gates. And they don’t even line up with the existing hoist,” Parker said in an email to Peace Arch News. “I swear, this is the only ‘shop’ in the world a grease monkey can’t drive straight in.”
Shortly after her visit, Parker set up the “Elgin Garage Raising” Facebook page in order to reach out to parents and students and share concerns. She said she plans to take the feedback she has received to the principal and see what can be done to expand the space.
“What I wanted to do was establish this Facebook page first and then direct parents and students to post their comments here. Once the numbers grow and I have something here to show, I’m going to have the principal look at it,” she said. “I’m not saying I want it to be negative, I just want to create a platform so people can voice their support on expanding the shop.”
She noted one specific cause for concern is the lack of a car hoist.
“The old one is from the ’90s when the school was built. It has been outside all along in a covered enclosure. The catch is, the school board apparently will not give it to the school because the hoist must be mounted indoors, but there is no room for it,” she said.
Mynhardt said Monday he is unable to comment on Parker’s concerns, directing inquiries to the district.
Surrey School District communications manager Doug Strachan said no hoist has been set aside for the school, but an assessment was made of the shop to see if it would be possible to install a new hoist last fall.
Following a tour by deputy and assistant superintendents, the only option would be to spend about $300,000 to renovate the shop space in order to place a hoist inside, as per school and safety regulations, Strachan told PAN.
“The district can’t compromise and won’t compromise student safety. The original hoist’s installation doesn’t meet guidelines and requirements now,” he said, noting it is no longer in use.
“While we could purchase a new hoist, the installation requires certain standards to be met to be safe and stay safe. We don’t have the option of installing a new hoist in the current environment, so that leaves us with the option of spending $300,000 to renovate.
“In this climate, $300,000 is a lot for a school board. So we’re faced with the decision of spending $300,000 to renovate one room in one school for one class or use that money to address needed repairs in a variety of schools.”
Strachan added that even without a hoist, the school’s automotive program is still meeting curriculum requirements.
Parker said that while she is aware of the cost to renovate the shop for the automotive program, she doesn’t think price should be the deciding factor in the renovation.
“That’s not a lot of money for what they’d be getting out of it, essentially a safer work space and more elbow room,” she said, noting her 14-year-old daughter, Avalon, plans on taking the class with her friends next year. “I think it’s great to have a few classes under their belt. It takes away the fear and intimidation.
“I’m hoping they’ll improve the shop before they lose it.”