Surrey School District officials are crossing their fingers construction of the new Sunnyside Elementary is just around the corner.
But after years of waiting and an unexpected order last year to come up with new designs – a step that further delayed the process – they’re not holding their breath.
“If this is how the government is going to expedite capital projects, heaven help us all,” Board of Trustees chair Laurae McNally said in a recent interview.
Replacing Sunnyside – located at 15250 28 St. in South Surrey – received a green light from the provincial government in the 2005-’06 school year. At that time, it was anticipated the new building, at 2828 159 St., would be ready for occupancy as early as next month.
The process was set back a year after the district was told to build the school as a Neighbourhood Learning Centre.
But while the district is again good to go – and has been for some time – the project remains stalled.
“We have the site,” McNally said. “We just need Treasury Board to say OK.”
When that word will come remains to be seen, however, Surrey School District spokesman Doug Strachan said formal documents that clear the way “could be imminent.”
If they come together in time for the next school board meeting (Dec. 15), construction could get underway in the spring, Strachan said. After Dec. 15, the board won’t meet again until January.
A spokesperson with the Ministry of Education said Friday it’s anticipated the capital funding project agreement will be signed by the board this week (Dec. 15), and a decision from government is expected in January.
McNally said she can’t remember a school project that’s taken longer to go through the process.
“From 2006, this is just unbelievable,” she said.
She said she’s hearing regularly from parents and school administrators wanting to know what the hold-up is and when they can expect to see construction get underway. They’re also calling MLAs, she said, noting the issue is made more interesting by the fact it straddles two ridings: those of Stephanie Cadieux (Surrey-Panorama) and Kevin Falcon (Surrey-Cloverdale). Falcon’s riding, where the new Sunnyside is to be built, is the city’s fastest-growing, McNally added.
The go-ahead can’t come soon enough, McNally said.
“If you drive around that area there, new houses are sprouting up everywhere,” she said.
“It’s just got to get going.”