Opinion

Editorial — Province, Township is failing Willoughby parents and students

The provincial government is failing in its responsibilities to the residents of Willoughby, and Langley Township council is compounding that failure by continuing to approve development applications in the area.

To top it off, it is now obvious that the Langley Board of Education decision in 2009 to turn H.D. Stafford into a middle school and concentrate Grades 9-12 high school students at Langley Secondary was a colossal mistake.

The province has the responsibility to build new schools, or add on to schools, when there are sufficient children there to use those facilities. There are clearly far more children in Willoughby now than school space available. The new middle school which will open in September will not make any difference. Portables will be in use at the school on the day it opens.

The province is facing a financial squeeze, as it makes obvious every time Education Minister Peter Fassbender comments on the teacher negotiations, where both sides are hopelessly divided on money issues.

However, new schools are not built out of current cash flow. They are built with borrowed money. While the province obviously wants to keep its borrowings under control, borrowing money at a time when interest rates are at a record low isn’t a bad idea — particularly to build schools in areas where there are plenty of students to fill them.

New schools are needed now in Willoughby.

The Township needs to closely monitor the province’s response to the classroom shortage in Willoughby. If there is no concrete action, perhaps council should stop agreeing to any development proposal which will add more children to area schools. If the Township actually stuck firm to such a position, it is amazing how quick the response from Victoria would be.

In terms of Langley Secondary, information presented at the last board meeting makes it obvious that the school needs to be replaced. That’s what many parents said during the protracted debate over middle schools in general, and H.D. Stafford in particular. It’s too bad that knowledge didn’t sink in at a much earlier time.

Langley’s classroom issues are complex, but with some effort by trustees and managers, and some help from Victoria, they can be solved.

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