Surrey District 36 Parent Advisory Council president Karen Tan encouraged parents to call provincial MLAs and voice their concerns on over-capacity at Surrey schools Saturday afternoon in front of Earl Marriott Secondary. (Aaron Hinks photo)

VIDEO: Surrey school capacity rally held at Earl Marriott

Surrey School Coalition encouraged parents to put pressure on provincial government

The Surrey School Coalition (SSC) says the provincial government needs to ‘write a cheque’ for the $217 million it promised last January to build more schools in Surrey.

At a ‘rally’ held in front of Earl Marriott Secondary School Saturday, Surrey District Parent Advisory Council president Karen Tan and Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner spoke of the urgency of over-capacity at Surrey schools.

In front of a crowd of at least 50 parents and children, Hepner said she can recall over-capacity being an issue up to 30 years ago, and “it has now reached a crisis stage.”

SSC notes that while the $217 million was announced last January, the money is yet to be received by the Surrey School District.

“We’re getting a little bit fatigued,” Tan told Peace Arch News Saturday. “We really need the money to come forward. Actually give the district the money and follow through with their capital plan and just build some schools. Saying is just not enough anymore.”

Tan said to date, there has been only one approved project – $26 million for Clayton Village elementary.

“There’s no cash-flow coming… we really want them to fast-track some more projects,” Tan said.

Hepner told the crowd that she had a conversation with the ministry Friday (Oct. 27) afternoon.

“I can assure that they’ve got the message and my understanding is that they will be coming out with a plan for Surrey and I hope that we will see the kind of capital construction that is necessary to begin to alleviate this problem in our city,” Hepner said.

Tan, who has two children attending William Watson elementary, said she’s been working to resolve the over-capacity in city schools for the past seven years.

“Surrey is spending around $4.2 million on portables every year and no other district is spending that money. What that means for our students is that we’re not getting resources for our students. Right at the starting line, our Surrey students are negatively impacted,” Tan said.

BC Liberal MLAs Marvin Hunt (Surrey-Cloverdale) and Stephanie Cadieux (Surrey South) attended the rally.

Hunt said in a media scrum that he can recall portables in the Surrey School District when he was a member of the school board in 1984.

“That’s a huge challenge and it’s been a challenge for years because of the growth in Surrey,” Hunt said. “That’s why I’m here, I want to support and stand with the coalition to get the money here in Surrey and get schools built.”

One reporter suggested to Hunt that “some people” are saying the lack of schools in Surrey is an issue caused by the BC Liberal government, which held power in the province from 2001-2017.

“Actually, it’s not if we go back to the previous NDP government of the 1990s. They didn’t built schools then. It was a carry over from the (British Columbia Social Credit Party). So, it’s a constant challenge, it’s a perpetual challenge. The reality comes down to the priorities of the government for their capital,” Hunt said.

“We hear a lot of promises in the election, we still hear a lot of promises in the house.”

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