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‘Moving down the path’ to post secondary in Ridge Meadows

Province announces $250,000 for a feasibility study
MLA Lisa Beare and Pitt Meadows Mayor Nicole MacDonald at the announcement of a new post secondary feasibility study. (Neil Corbett/The News)

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows students got a hopeful sign they will one day be able to attend college in their home communities.

At Pitt Meadows City Hall on Feb. 2, MLAs Bob D’Eith (Maple Ridge-Mission) and Lisa Beare (Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge) announced $250,000 for a feasibility study to help outline potential post secondary educational opportunities in the area.

“Having post secondary options close by would allow more people to upskill, re-skill and train towards well-paying jobs in our region,” said D’Eith. “Community members have been advocating for more post-secondary options here at home, and I’m pleased we are taking another step towards that goal.”

“It has been a real community effort to bring us closer to having more post-secondary options in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows,” said Beare. “As a former school board trustee, I know how important it is for students to have options close to home as they plan their journey after high school, and this feasibility study is a key step towards a goal that would make a huge impact for people in our community.”

There was an earlier $250,000 in funding from the province in 2022, to conduct a needs assessment of post-secondary education and skills training in the two fast-growing cities. It found that fewer people aged 18-24 from the communities are attending post secondary classes compared with the rest of the region.

Across Metro Vancouver 57 per cent get post-secondary education, but in Maple Ridge this transition rate is just 40 per cent, and in Pitt Meadows 48 per cent. Both cities also trail the provincial transition rate of 50 per cent.

“Just to be really clear, this is not announcing post secondary, but it is moving down the path,” said D’Eith.

He said the feasibility study will take about a year, and will be available in 2025.

“We know it’s not (happening) tomorrow, but it’s absolutely a step in the right direction,” said Pitt Meadows Mayor Nicole MacDonald.

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District Chair Elaine Yamamoto noted the district has one of the best high school graduation rates in the province, but the logistical barrier of not having local courses is making it challenging for grads to transition to post-secondary.

The feasibility study will be done by Kwantlen Polytechnic University in conjunction with Douglas College, the Justice Institute of British Columbia, and the University of the Fraser Valley.

“It’s really an exciting next step for the Ridge Meadows community,” said KPU associate vice-president of campus and community planning Brent Elliott, who was also at the meeting.

He worked at Maple Ridge City Hall in the past, in the planning department, and noted “it’s wonderful to see how the needs assessment bore out what we knew when I was in the community.”

That needs assessment included engagement with 1,500 residents, students, parents and school district staff through surveys and community events, as well as consultation with a wide range of organizations, including local government, School District 42, TransLink, local First Nations, post-secondary institutions, and the business community.

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Neil Corbett

About the Author: Neil Corbett

I have been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past decade with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
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