LETTER: Surrey’s ‘crazy’ residential growth shares school crunch blame

Anyone who has lived in Surrey for the past few years has seen the systematic destruction of trees and green space in what seems to be a race to build as fast as possible on every undeveloped square foot of land.

Thousands of Surrey students attend class in a portable.

To the editor;

Re: “Falcon says more money needed to build Surrey schools,” www.cloverdalereporter.com

I attended the meeting at Earl Marriott Secondary where Principal Peter Johnston and Assistant Superintendant Rick Ryan informed parents of the new bell schedule that would create five periods per day instead of four. They also outlined the primary reason for the change – overcrowding that has EMS handling 20 per cent more students than capacity.

Numerous parents were not happy with the change and this displeasure was directed at the closest targets, namely Mr. Johnston and Mr. Ryan. The provincial government and its lack of school funding was held up as the primary scapegoat and I note in recent articles that the City of Surrey is quick to jump on the bandwagon and point the finger in that direction. However, in my view the City should not be let off the hook so easily.

Anyone who has lived in Surrey for the past few years has seen the systematic destruction of trees and green space in what seems to be a race to build as fast as possible on every undeveloped square foot of land. I am not aware of the exact motivations for this pace of development. Perhaps twisted pride in maintaining the title of Fastest Growing City in B.C.? Perhaps greed in collecting as many fees from developers and taxes from residents as possible? Regardless, the result has been a continuous influx of residents despite the Surrey School District not receiving capital funding for new schools since 2005.

Is it not the City’s responsibility to plan development and assess the impacts that such development would have on infrastructure before permits are issued for multiple high density housing units in the same area (Grandview, in the case of EMS)? Surely some simple math could have produced a relationship between the number of planned new housing units, the number of expected new residents and the resulting number of new high school students falling within a certain catchment? Surely a simple phone call to the catchment high school would then have determined how able the school was to handle an additional X students over a period of Y years? Perhaps I’m being too logical but doesn’t it make sense to slow the growth of your student population if your school systems can’t handle it, not build like crazy?

By no means am I defending the government’s shoddy record of school funding, just pointing out that everyone needs to look a little closer to home when it comes to spreading the blame.

Steve Rudolph

Surrey