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Langley City calls on B.C. for more school funding as growth takes off

Student numbers expected to more than double in next decade
Nicomekl Elementary needs eight more classrooms, City Mayor Nathan Pachal said. (Google Street View)

Langley City called on the province to put more money into local schools, saying the number of students will increase by 142 per cent over the next 10 years.

“School enrolment within the City has increased beyond current capacity over the past few years with the adoption of our new Official Community Plan that supports the provincial objective of increasing housing stock for families with children,” Mayor Nathan Pachal said in a Tuesday, Feb. 13 statement.

Between the arrival of SkyTrain in 2028 and new provincial housing regulations that will increase density, the City is expecting a 241 per cent jump in the number of total housing units in the City over a decade, Pachal said.

The City’s growth has been extremely rapid in recent years, with multiple low-rise condo and townhouse developments being built, with the bulk of the development in the Nicomekl neighbourhood – about 80 per cent of the City’s total growth is there.

“There will be another 165 students in the Nicomekl neighbourhood over the next four years and we desperately need to expand Nicomekl Elementary School immediately to address this increase,” said Pachal.

An eight-classroom expansion to the school is scheduled for 2025/26, costing $28 million. But the budget has not been given the final approval by the B.C. government, which puts forward most of the funding for new schools.

Pachal called for the province to provide a firm commitment for that funding, as well as advancing the funding for the project to this year and 2025.

Former Langley school trustee Shelley Coburn reacted to the announcement on Facebook by saying schools were already overcrowded in the City.

“I was banging that drum for five years and in the end of my term I was muted publicly over it,” she wrote, in a post with numerous laughing emojis.

Langley School District covers both Langley City and Township, with two trustees elected from the City and five in the Township.

Over the past decade, the district has grown rapidly, with most of the growth, and several new and expanded schools, in the Willoughby neighbourhood in the Township.

But with Langley City’s growth ramping up, schools there have been coming under increasing pressure as well.

New schools are not approved for construction in B.C. until existing schools are over-capacity.

In the last three years, each school year has seen the total Langley student population expand by 1,000 new students or more, the equivalent of about two full elementary schools.

READ ALSO: ‘New’ Langley high school already set for expansion

Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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