Letters: Bus fees are double taxation

I will again attend the public meetings this year to try and prevent any further cuts in this area.

Editor, The News:

Re: School buses on chop block (The News, April 3).

I wrote this time last year when the school district was considering eliminating or charging for riding the buses to school.

I attended the public meeting and was disappointed, when the board decided that it would charge $215 for a student to ride the bus to school.

I will again attend the public meetings this year to try and prevent any further cuts in this area.

Our family resides in the Albion/Thornhill area and when we built our home 10 years ago we were part of the Albion elementary catchment area.

As this area continues to grow and expand, the school quickly filled to over capacity and the school district was unable to convince the provincial Liberals that an additional school was required in our area.

The school district finally resorted to redrawing the catchment boundaries for a number of the subdivisions in the eastern parts of Albion.

Our subdivision was switched to Whonnock elementary and adjacent subdivisions were transferred to Blue Mountain and Webster’s Corners elementary schools.

That was reasonable as long as the school district was providing the bussing to transport these elementary students to school.

The problem we are faced with here is that the vast majority of the parents travel westward to work (in either central Maple Ridge or elsewhere in Metro Vancouver).

Our new catchment schools lie to the east or northeast, which makes it almost impossible for parents to transport their children to school on there way to, or from work.

This is not a problem for the high school-aged students as SRT was strategically placed in the centre of Albion, so it is not a long walk for most of those students.

We live five minutes from SRT, but over eight km on narrow, forested roads to Whonnock elementary.

I find it unacceptable that parents in this area are having to pay, over and above our school taxes, an additional $215 a student to get our children to their catchment school.  Talk about double taxation.

Until such time as the school district can convince the provincial Liberals to fund our much-needed second elementary school in Albion, I feel the school board has a moral responsibility to transport these elementary students to their distant catchment schools.

I am pleased to see that Mayor Nicole Read and council have also identified this need for additional school space in Albion and Silver Valley as a high priority.

We have to remember, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, while many would like to think they are urban municipalities, both contain large rural areas, which will require school buses for some time to come.

Ian Strachan

Maple Ridge