Burnaby NewsLeader article below
The fact a new elementary school in the Brentwood area is on local MLA Richard Lee's priority list is music to the ears of Burnaby school district.
For a number of years, the district has put forward a request to the education ministry for just such a school in its five-year capital plans, said its secretary-treasurer Greg Frank.
In a recent interview, Lee, the newly re-elected BC Liberal MLA for Burnaby North, said he'd like to see a school built to serve families living in the highrise towers already built or planned over the coming years.
Calling it his "dream project," he said he plans to advocate for it if it proves warranted.
"We're very pleased that this is a priority for him," Frank said of Lee. "We look forward to working with him in terms of having this project approved."
There is a growing community of highrises south of Lougheed Highway both east and west of Willingdon Avenue, and Shape Properties is working towards a major redevelopment of the Brentwood Town Centre mall property that will also include several residential towers.
Brentwood Park elementary is the closest existing school near Lougheed and Willingdon and it's "already beyond capacity," Frank said.
It currently has 460 students while the ideal capacity—where portables would not be needed—is 400, he said.
The district would like a new area school with enough space initially for 240 students. Such a project is estimated to cost $15 million to $20 million in total for purchase of the land and construction, he said.
As for the location of the school, Frank said Burnaby city hall's community plans for the area have identified potential locations amid the developments just south of Lougheed and just east of Willingdon.
"No site has been purchased but within the city's development plans it does identify an area for additional park space and school space."
The district is still a long way from looking at a potential catchment area, Frank said.
While it all depends on what the provincial government's priorities are, once such a project is approved it's typically a three- to four-year process before it would be completed, he said.
"Because we don't have a project yet approved, I would suspect we're looking at a five-year window depending on how quickly it actually is approved."