The B.C. government has deferred at least seven school projects due to a lack of capital cash.
The projects put on hold are a new school in Fernie, seismic upgrades in Vancouver for False Creek Elementary, Killarney Secondary and David Thompson Secondary, an upgrade to Pitt Meadows Secondary, and the building of a new secondary school in Mission.
“The uncertainty is the deferment,” Mission School Board chair Tracy Loffler said.
“We don’t know if it is a one-year deferment or a 10-year deferment, especially knowing the urgency we need this school built.”
The province says it is spending more than $3.1 billion over the next three years to build and upgrade schools, including nearly $1 billion to fast-track seismic upgrades.
But due to the pandemic and last year’s floods, the province has fewer capital funds available than originally expected.
The province recently informed school districts if their projects were deferred or will go ahead.
“There are times where we need to rejig and reprioritize our capital list,” education minister Jennifer Whiteside said.
“These situations come when the priorities change and another project becomes more urgent.”
But critics are quick to point to the government’s own priorities.
The province has committed to spending $1 billion on a new Royal BC Museum and Archives building.
The investment only makes up one per cent of the province’s capital investments, but the BC Greens say it is money that could be spent elsewhere.
“What the museum represents is a decision the government made that is out of step with the priorities of British Columbians and what they are feeling,” said Adam Olsen, Saanich North and the Islands MLA.