Schools before homes

Is it time for a moratorium on residential growth until more schools are built in Surrey?

Students at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary staged a walkout to protest timetable changes being considered to help accommodate more students.

If Surrey is serious about fixing the problem of schools too jammed to properly function, it could tear a page from the strategy book of Port Moody.

That mayor and council drew a line in the sand in recent years, vowing to block any further development in their city until key transportation upgrades happen, notably the long-promised Evergreen Line extension of SkyTrain through Port Moody.

That has stepped up pressure for a solution – from the premier’s office on down – because Port Moody is among the Metro Vancouver cities that is designated to take significant amounts of growth in future decades.

Surrey is also feeling the impact of growth outpacing the services provided, although the issue here is overcrowded schools, a plague of portables and now a controversial new class schedule that has sparked student protests.

As with Port Moody, a council-dictated moratorium on development here until more capital money is released for school construction could galvanize Victoria into action.

Developers, realtors and land owners whose projects would be frozen would not relish the interruption in the flow of their profits or the prospect of a lingering cloud of uncertainty over their investments.

Many of them are supporters of Cloverdale MLA Kevin Falcon, other Liberal MLAs in Surrey and the provincial government generally.

Since government tends to listen to its friends, a development freeze would certainly be an attention-getter.

Whether enough council members have the gumption to take such action or not is questionable, and would depend heavily on the strength of the tide of public support behind them.

Expect the pace of development and proposals to rein it in to become an issue in this fall’s council election as candidates for council and mayor step into the ring.

– Cloverdale ReporterFollow the Cloverdale Reporter on Twitter and Facebook. View our print edition online.