COLUMN: New Surrey schools plagued by endless delays

Process to build new schools or additions is encumbered by bureaucracy, writes Frank Bucholtz

The second of five school building projects affected by almost endless delays is getting underway.

A $23.4 million contract to build Maddaugh Road Elementary in Clayton was awarded to Pro-Can Construction. The school is expected to open in January, 2021. This follows last month’s award of a contract to build a 12-room addition to Pacific Heights Elementary in South Surrey. That project is expected to be complete by the spring of 2020.

READ MORE: Construction to begin on new Surrey elementary school

In both cases, they will open much later than originally promised by the provincial government, which is in total control of school capital projects.

The Maddaugh Road school will open nearly 18 months later than it was supposed to open. A sign on the property, which was cleared a year ago, states that the school would be ready to welcome students this September. Of course, that isn’t going to happen.

The lengthy delay in getting these projects underway is largely due to much higher construction costs than anticipated at the time they were announced. While that is a factor beyond control of the province, the reality is the process to build new schools or additions is encumbered by bureaucracy.

Another of the five delayed projects was announced by the former BC Liberal government in October, 2016. It said a new secondary school in the fast-growing Grandview Heights area would be built. Two years and four months later, a contract has yet to be awarded (as of Monday). The most recent new secondary school in Surrey, Clayton’s Salish Secondary, opened last September. It took two full years to build.

The Grandview Heights project will take just as long. Unlike Clayton, there isn’t even another secondary school there. The closest one is Earl Marriott on 16 Avenue, on the Surrey-White Rock boundary.

Assuming a contract is awarded soon, it won’t be open until the fall of 2021 at the earliest. Maybe the opening date can be co-ordinated with the date of the original announcement, so it can mark five full years between announcement and opening.

These bureaucratic delays affect communities. Cloverdale Community Association has called for a complete freeze on new development in Cloverdale and Clayton, other than infill, so infrastructure can start to catch up. In many ways, Grandview Heights is even further behind on infrastructure. As of yet, no one is calling for such a freeze there.

The province is also in complete control of health care funding. Health Minister Adrian Dix recently made an announcement about additional funds for senior care in Surrey, and said he will have more to say soon about plans for a new hospital.

While it’s good that the idea of a new hospital is on the radar, existing proposals for hospital renovations to improve emergency and diagnostic services are just as important. Once again, the bureaucracy is slowing down things.

The Surrey, Delta, White Rock and Langley areas are the fastest-growing in the province, but provincial bureaucracy in a number of ministries is stifling speedy construction of overdue infrastructure.

Frank Bucholtz writes Wednesdays for Peace Arch News, as well as at – email

Just Posted

South Surrey senior says violent bike crash was a ‘blessing in disguise’

Six people stopped to help Dave Rogers after he crashed his bike and broke his collarbone

Public hearing planned for Campbell Heights development

Project to see the removal of more than 500 trees

City of White Rock tells residents to keep distance from pier project

Residents and tourists are asked to stay at least 100 metres away from barge

White Rock students deliver donation to low-income families

Seniors, kids and more to benefit from Peace Arch Elementary students’ efforts

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

Police say it’s “impressive” no arrests were made after Raptors celebrations

Toronto will play the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors next

Semis catch fire at wrecker off Highway 1 in west Abbotsford

Crews called to scene at around 2 p.m., finding up to six semis that had caught fire at the wrecker

Social media giants in hot seat as politicians consider regulations in Ottawa

Committee members will also grill representatives from Facebook, Twitter

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

The Chuckegg Creek fire is raging out of control about three kilometres southwest of the town

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Most Read

l -->