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Announcement of new Langley school sparks questions in neighbouring Surrey

Langley, B.C. -

A new elementary school will be built in Langley, the provincial government announced Thursday, in a move that had leaders in neighbouring Surrey questioning when they'll see something similar in their city.

Premier David Eby announced funding of up to $51.8 million for a 555-seat elementary school in Langley's northeast Latimer neighbourhood.

The premier said construction would begin next spring and the school would open in the fall of 2025.

"The new elementary school in Langley's rapidly growing Willoughby area will soon bring students, families and staff together to learn, grow, make friends and build community for generations to come," Eby said in a news release accompanying the announcement.

The district has added 1,000 new students for each of the past two years. By September, Langley schools will have 128 portables.

“Our hope is that this new school will relieve some of the enrollment pressures in our schools,” said Langley School Board chair Candy Ashdown, who explained that the new school was something the board had lobbied for.

The new school is slated to feature a "neighbourhood learning centre," which the province says will offer services – including child care – to benefit families in the broader community.

The province also touted the inclusion of accessible, all-gender washrooms in the new school's design, as well as the incorporation of low-carbon, mass timber construction materials in portions of the school.

B.C.'s latest investment in Langley schools follows recently completed seismic upgrades at Vanguard Secondary and Shortreed Community Elementary.


It also comes as neighbouring Surrey implores the province for more action on school infrastructure in that community.

Surrey's city council recently declared a school infrastructure crisis, saying it's expected there will be close to 400 portable classrooms in the city by fall.

“We’re not seeing the action that our community so desperately needs,” said Mayor Brenda Locke on Tuesday.

“We know that without rapid investment, our schools are facing a dire situation. We need action and investment in building more schools in Surrey now.”

Gary Tymoschuk, vice-chair of the Surrey School Board, said that “400 portables equates to about seven elementary schools and two high schools.”

He said the cost of purchasing portables, moving them and maintaining them is all born by the school district. When a new school is built, funding comes from the province.

“So where does that money come from? Well, frankly, it comes out of the classroom. It comes out of the operating costs,” Tymoschuk said. “The money is coming out of the classroom and at the end of the day, it’s the students who end up paying for that.”

When asked why there are so many portables in Surrey Eby said the province's population is growing at a record rate. He blames shortfalls on the previous governments.

“We’ve committed to – and we’re delivering – 10,000 new student spaces in Surrey. And we know the need is urgent and it’s urgent in other communities, including right here in Langley,” the premier said.

The education minister said she’s been in talks with Surrey and that the district already receives the maximum funding.

“I would say I was a little disheartened when they said it was a crisis as if nothing has been done,” Rachna Singh said.

“We have been investing in Surrey. We have been investing in our education system and we are working very closely.”

She said the province is also trying to streamline building processes to speed up construction.

But Tymoschuk said while they’ve had discussions with the minister “we haven’t had any action”.

“I would hope that the minister, the premier, will be making a stop in Surrey in the very near future to announce some schools for us,” he said.

In an email, the Ministry of Education and Child Care said that, “Since 2017, 16 new schools and expansions have been completed for Surrey kids, with more on the way.”

Since 2017, the Province has also approved more than $500 million for capital projects in Surrey.

Tymoschuk said the board has asked for another meeting with the minister, but has yet to hear back. Top Stories


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