To the usual New Year’s resolutions of losing weight, exercising more or getting finances in order, parents with children in Surrey schools likely have a few suggestions for those in charge of making decisions, at both the city and school board levels.
Topping the list would be spending time creating a made-in-Surrey solution for the ongoing problem of overcrowded schools.
Thanks to its central location in the region and relative affordability, Surrey is destined to remain attractive to families – and that means crammed classrooms aren’t going away any time soon.
This decades-old challenge needs a new approach. The old-school formula of building new structures “when we see the whites of their eyes,” – i.e. securing funding for new schools only after more students have already arrived – is not going to cut it anymore.
Surrey’s economic vibrancy and its commitment to education excellence have reached a crossroads – as city hall saw earlier this year, when a Panorama residential development ran into opposition from fed-up parents.
Enough is enough. A better funding formula must be tabled, ideally before the provincial election in May. If not, this simmering situation will likely come to boiling point at the polls.
And while lists of resolutions are being drawn up, there are a number of other civic issues that inevitably impact on the Semiahmoo Peninsula.
As many tragedies have demonstrated, the fentanyl crisis affects us all – not just unfortunate street dwellers on “The Strip” in City Centre.
The RCMP can’t continue to act as health-care providers or social workers to troubled citizens – there is a need to implement a proactive strategy to deal with the heartbreaking problems of mental illness and substance abuse.
Addressing the appalling rate of child poverty, and ensuring affordable rental units are considered in development proposals, will be key to better preventative measures.
Thirdly, residents and businesspeople need a way to get where they’re going – not gridlock.
Surrey leaders in particular must continue to lobby for better transportation options south of the Fraser, including its long-awaited rapid transit system, improved bus service and a more equitable tolling system for our bridges.
Some of the city’s greatest challenges technically fall under the umbrellas of bigger governments, but we shouldn’t wait for someone else to fix our problems. Let’s unleash some of Surrey’s – and the Peninsula’s – own initiative and problem-solving ability in the new year.