Schools in government ridings get more than two-thirds of new funds

The provincial government has committed to $35.3 million in infrastructure upgrades for schools across British Columbia, but a disproportionate amount of that is going to facilities in Liberal-held ridings.

Analysis by Global News shows that schools in Liberal ridings received $23.6 million, or 66.9 per cent of the allocated funding over the last four months.

NDP ridings received $10.1 million, just 28.6 per cent of the amount allocated, even though the party received 40 per cent of the seats in the legislature in the 2013 election.

The government announced that $20 million would be given to school districts across the province in August, but added an additional $15.3 million in funding after many districts proposed projects where the life of the school could be extended.

Eight of the 10 most expensive projects went to schools in Liberal ridings, including $1.3 million for mechanical upgrades at Agassiz’s Kent Elementary, $1.03 million to replace the roof of W.L. Seaton Secondary in Vernon, and $912,000 to replace the roof of Fort Nelson Secondary.

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Liberal MLAs were allowed to make announcements when schools in their riding were given funds, while NDP MLAs were denied the opportunity, according to the Vancouver Sun.

Notably, the Vancouver School Board did not receive any funds, despite requesting $5 million.

Of the four school districts to get four projects approved, three—Vernon, Kamloops/Thompson, and Peace River South—are in Liberal-dominated areas.

In total, 110 projects were approved, with 73 in Liberal ridings and 32 in NDP ridings. Two projects went in ridings belonging to Green MLA Andrew Weaver and Independent MLA Vicki Huntington, while $1.19 million went to three separate proposals benefiting portables throughout Surrey.

For their part, the provincial government says some school districts in NDP regions—including Alberni, Vancouver Island West and Stikine—failed to apply for funding. They also said that with the exception of Vancouver, every school district that applied got at least one project approved.

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