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Surrey parents rally for schools to be built in BC's biggest district

Last Updated Oct 28, 2017 at 1:55 pm PDT

Parents rally for better funding to build schools in Surrey. The demonstration was held at Earl Marriott Secondary (October 2017). (Hana Mae Nassar, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Surrey Schools Coalition claims there are 325 portables in that city

Some parents are becoming frustrated they're waiting so long for schools to be built

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – Parents in Surrey are pushing the new NDP government to live up to its promises and build more schools. A rally was held today meant to put pressure on the city’s five New Democrat MLAs.

Surrey is BC’s largest school district and, according to the Surrey Schools Coalition, there are 325 portable classrooms spread around the city.

Karen Tan with the group says there is no reason to delay construction any longer. “Our growth is going to continue about 1,200 students a year so we thought this is a good time to do a rally while the province is setting [its] budget for next year.”

Budgets notwithstanding, there is also the considerable lead time of four to five years between approving a new school and getting it built. “We are basically saying, ‘Now’s the time to build because lots of families are moving in, especially with the affordability crisis that’s [on] the Lower Mainland.”

However, Tan admits their demands don’t end there. “We are also asking the province to adhere to their province of what they called a Surrey Project Board to fast-track the project, so that we’re not waiting again and again and waiting for that lead time that you were saying earlier, that four to five years. We’re hoping that they expedite it to two years.”

One man who attended the rally is a father of two and says he’s concerned after hearing some of the issues the school district seems to be facing when it comes to funding. “Some of the numbers I heard today were quite stark and I’m hopeful they get addressed as soon as possible because having two kids going into the school system — it’s a long road ahead.”

One woman who spoke to NEWS 1130 is a member of the Surrey District Parents Advisory Council and has a daughter in Grade 7. She says she has multiple concerns including the time it would take to build new facilities. “I think as a community we are really falling behind. The schools are overcrowded and the children are not getting the electives they need.”

BC’s new NDP government has committed to the previously announced multi-million funding budget but some parents say they want to see the money now, in hopes Victoria makes education a priority.

Today’s rally was held from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Earl Marriott Secondary.