New Surrey schools get the go-ahead
Four Surrey school projects announced by the provincial government last Halloween are finally moving ahead.
Architects were appointed by local trustees Thursday evening for two new elementary schools in crowded neighbourhoods and for expansions at a pair of high schools overrun with portables.
The projects were among eight announced for Surrey when Premier Christy Clark came to town with considerable fanfare last October.
Among them were additions at two crowded high schools: Fraser Heights Secondary, which has 16 portables, and Panorama Ridge Secondary, where there are 14.
Also targeted were two new elementary schools in the rapidly growing neighbourhoods of South Newton and East Clayton that will relieve overcrowding at Hazelgrove and Cambridge Elementary schools.
The Surrey Surrey District found out last week it could proceed with the building process and within days appointed the architects.
"We don't fool around on this end. Give us the money and we get the shovels in the ground," said Surrey Board of Education Chair Laurae McNally, pointing to the five months it took get the go-ahead from the province.
The firm Craven Huston Powers Architects will oversee the two new elementary schools, while Grant & Sinclair Architects Ltd., which designed the original schools, will do the additions at Fraser Heights and Panorama Ridge Secondary schools.
"Everybody knows time is of the essence. We needed these schools three years ago, so the architects aren't going to waste a lot of time," McNally said, adding the elementary schools are being fast-tracked.
While a September 2013 opening might be tight, the district is aiming for the elementary schools to be ready sometime that fall.
The high school additions, McNally said, are more complicated and may take a bit longer.
The Ad Hoc Committee Advocating for Surrey Schools, a group made up of various city, business, teacher, union, parent and student representatives, expressed concern in February that the projects were stalled and urged Education Minister George Abbott and Surrey-Cloverdale MLA and Minister of Finance Kevin Falcon to examine the capital project process and "its effectiveness/appropriateness" in addressing Surrey's urgent needs.