Our View: Schools doled out by Clark

This week, it was New Westminster’s turn.

New West has been in dire need of a new high school for years. The city of more than 66,000 people has only a single, sprawling secondary school. Local parents and politicians have been calling for a replacement for years, and finally the provincial government swooped in to announce a new project.

Before New West, it was Surrey that got some relief, and next Langley or Abbotsford of Coquitlam will be getting the big announcement. Government ministers will zip into town and stick shovels in the ground, and maybe we’ll see the premier (if we’re getting closer to the election).

This has been the provincial Liberal plan for funding everything for far too long. Wait until existing infrastructure is stressed to the breaking point – schools overcrowded, roads clogged, bridges crumbling, buses wheezing. Then they swoop in and cut a ribbon in front of photographers. Problem solved!

Except the problem isn’t usually solved. Surrey’s big announcement of space for 2,700 more students will still leave 4,000 in portables. Langley is growing so fast that schools built a year or two ago already have portables. The massive Port Mann and Highway One projects did clear up traffic – but saddled commuters with a new toll to pay for it all.

The province also loves paying for things to be built, but not for the cost of running anything. New bridges and schools make for great photo opps. But hire new teachers or bus drivers? Or pay them more? The province would rather fight tooth and nail to avoid it.

The government needs to stop a policy of patching things up, and work to actually meet the needs of citizens now, not when things are on the verge of crisis.

– M.C.



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