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Ten-year wait for new school ends

The Ministry of Education will contribute $353 million to construction of new schools in British Columbia. The plan includes approval for…

By Heather Roy , in Education , on November 17, 2011

International Village school gets approved after a decade. (Courtesy Vancouver School Board)

The Ministry of Education will contribute $353 million to construction of new schools in British Columbia. The plan includes approval for a new elementary school in International Village.

“The International Village school, it has been on the school board’s capital plan request for about ten years. It moved up to first place in 2009 after we got funding for our new UBC school and conversion of the old school,” said Vancouver School Board chair Patti Bacchus.

Related: NPA eyes commercial options to fund new schools

Planners never expected large numbers of children to live in the downtown core. “We weren’t really anticipating that many families down there,” said planner Celene Fung.

Rapid densification caused immediate overcrowding in Yaletown schools. “In the case of Elsie Roy [Elementary], by the time the school was completed, it was already oversubscribed. And, we knew we needed another school,” said Bacchus.

An underserved area

The Yaletown site was secured in 1997 and the school opened in 2004.

“[It] has been full for years and we always, always have waitlists,” said principal Rosa Fazio. She describes the difficulty of trying to find other schools for children. She frequently turns parents and students away.

“Not only were we using Lord Roberts school, but on the same site, there’s the Lord Roberts Adult Education Building. We had to occupy six of their classes to be able to accommodate the students, the young K to seven students in our downtown core,” said Fazio.

Bacchus said the International Village school will take approximately two years to complete. It will accommodate 60 kindergarten and 450 grades one through seven students.

Planners expect that, by the time the school opens, it will be at capacity.

“My gut feeling is saying it’s going to be full. That whole area is going to be underserved for elementary schools,” said Fung.

“There’s a bunch of density housing that’s been put there that basically is above International Village’s agreed upon capacity cause it wasn’t discussed back in 97,” she said.

Construction is scheduled to begin in 2012.

The map on this post has been provided by the Vancouver School Board. The Utilization Maps are supplied on an ‘as is, where is’ basis. The Vancouver School Board assumes no obligation or liability for the use of the maps by any person and makes no representations or promises regarding the completeness or accuracy or its fitness for a particular purpose. The maps represent a one-time capture of information as it exists at the time of compilation.