Education Minister Mike Bernier announced a new school will be built on Burke Mountain in Coquitlam on Monday, then toured the fastest-growing areas of Maple Ridge with Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Doug Bing.
“It’s always good to have a face-to-face with the new minister,” said Bing.
And while a proposed new school in the Albion area has not been announced, having Bernier see the need first hand is significant in the process, Bing added.
“It’s helpful to get it on the radar screen, and get it in the queue,” he said. “There is definitely a need.”
Bing was on hand for the announcement of Smiling Creek Elementary School, which will open on Burke Mountain in 2018. It will be jointly owned by the school district and the City of Coquitlam, with the city owning the play area and operating it as a park when school is not in session.
Bing and Bernier then toured Albion elementary with School District No. 42 chair Mike Murray and superintendent Sylvia Russell.
The school’s population is 30 per cent above the building’s capacity, and the provincial politicians heard that students who have moved across the street are not able to attend.
Murray said the visit gave the new minister an appreciation for the growth in the area, and Bing and Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton showed him the fast-developing subdivisions nearby in Albion.
“We shared with him the discussions we have had with the municipality about a new school in that area, and the city’s desire to see that happen,” said Murray.
Mayor Nicole Read said she was not able to join the meeting with the minister, but was aware of his pending visit.
“All-in-all, I would say it was a great meeting,” said Murray. “There are competing interests for those resources, but we feel we have a pretty good case.”
Bing said the tour of the school should have made an impression.
“If you see it on paper, it doesn’t always resonate.”
The minister was in Maple Ridge for about three hours, as he also toured Thomas Haney secondary, particularly the trades and technical programs.
Then trustees made an hour-long presentation to the minister, highlighting the need for a new elementary school in south Albion.