April 25, 2016 11:54 pm
Updated: April 26, 2016 9:16 am

Skyrocketing enrolment has Surrey School Board asking for halt on development

WATCH: School enrolment in Surrey has skyrocketed so much, now the school board can't even keep up. As Tanya Beja reports, it's hoping the city will step in and take some drastic action, and Keith Baldrey has an unorthodox suggestion on fixing the problem.

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New homes are going up in a South Surrey neighbourhood and new families are moving in.

Part of the appeal to families is nearby Sunnyside Elementary. The problem is the school is not just full, it’s overflowing.

“It’s crazy, I don’t even know where our daughter is going to end up going,” parent Sarah Northcott said. “I don’t know if we’re going to put her in here or if she could be accepted in here.”

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Surrey is the province’s fastest-growing school district with an additional 1,000 students expected to squeeze in next fall.

The district already spends $4 million a year installing and maintaining almost 300 portables and there are more to come.

Surrey School Trustee Laurae McNally says she thinks the district is “at crisis level.”

READ MORE: Enrolment down in Vancouver schools while Surrey struggles to meet demand

That’s why the school board is calling on the city to stop development in three areas: Grandview/South Surrey, Clayton and South Newton.

They want a moratorium on new homes until the province builds more schools.

“I’m not anti-development, but when I talk to people, they say they want a complete community, not just houses,” McNally said. “After all, schools are the heart of our communities.”

However, Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said “putting a halt on development is not the solution.”

The province is building a new high school in Surrey and three more elementary schools, but not in time to help families at Sunnyside Elementary. The three-year-old school is getting four more portables in the fall.

It has some families looking elsewhere.

“Unfortunately, I think we’re looking at moving out…to the valley because it’s just overcrowded,” Northcott said.

– With files from Tanya Beja

Correction: An earlier version of the web story misattributed a quote to former Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts. The quote was from current Mayor Linda Hepner.

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