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$2 million for school sites and nothing to show, City mayor says

'Every single nickel" of City school acquisition funding went to Township: Pachal
Langley City Mayor Nathan Pachal (inset) posted a picture of the Langley Prairie School demolition to argue the $2 million the municipality contributed for school site purchases has benefited the Township of Langley, not the City.

Over the years, Langley City has paid $2 million into a fund to purchase school sites and has nothing to show for it, Mayor Nathan Pachal estimates.

"Every nickel collected in Langley City has been used to purchase land for new schools in the Township of Langley," Pachal said Tuesday, July 9, in an online post with a file photo of the Langley Prairie School at at 20062 Fraser Highway being torn down in 2008.

"We actually lost a school site in Langley City."

In fact Langley has lost two schools, with the Langley Central Fundamental School at 208th Street and Fraser Highway (the former Langley Central Elementary school), burning down in 1993, the result of arson. 

Pachal explained the Langley school district collects School Site Acquisition Charges from developers for every new unit of housing built.

"The idea is that new housing means new school sites, but this isn't always the case."

The mayor was reacting to what he described as a Monday, July 8, notice from the Langley School Board that it was updating its school site acquisition charge policy to fund land purchases at four Township locations: Williams Elementary, Smith Elementary, Willoughby Slope Middle school and Brookswood Fernridge Middle school.

Pachal said Langley City Council has formally objected to the proposed locations.

"While the four proposed sites in the Township of Langley make sense, [City] council believes a fifth site in Langley City is warranted," Pachal said.

LangleyCity has been paying into the fund for "20-odd years," Pachal told the Langley Advance Times.

"The funding collected from Langley City is not going to fund sites in Langley City, it is going to fund sites in the Township," Pachal commented.

"We know it's one school district [for the Township and City] for sure, but we feel that with SkyTrain coming, it may warrant actually looking at a new school site in Langley City, given the huge influx of population that will create."

Now that the City has gone public with its concerns, Pachal said "the next step, basically, is having that conversation with the school district, and saying, 'hey, what's the possibility here of looking at school sites in the city?'"

"We're looking forward to a productive discussion."

If that doesn't produce the desired results,  Pachal indicated the matter could go to Victoria, observing that "at the end of the day, the provincial government can make a determination on it."

In response to a Langley Advance Times request for  comment, a statement from Joanne Abshire, district communications manager said the school district was "waiting to hear from City of Langley staff regarding any recent decisions made by Council."

"The District together with the Board of Education is committed to working with partners the City of Langley, and the Ministry of Education and Child Care, to help ensure there are adequate spaces for existing and new students," the statement said. 

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