“It would take us 160 years” – school board struggles with the need for new schools and the high cost of real estate

Costs are high, land is dear, and it looks like there are more kids than places to put them.

That conundrum was the subject of discussion Tuesday as the school board mulled projections showing the Tri-Cities will likely add more than 28,000 homes over the next decade. Those new units are expected to house about 5,774 school age children.

$161 million

To accommodate those future students, School District #43 expects to need six new schools over the next decade. However, paying for six school sites comprising 11 hectares is expected to cost about $161 million.


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To help foot the bill, developers are generally required to chip in $600 to the school district for each unit in a high-density development and $1,000-per unit in a low-density building.

Given the price of real estate, it would make more sense to raise those rates, according to school board Trustee Kerri Palmer Isaak.

“We’ve seen exponential growth around real estate values but this has not increased in like proportion,” she said, questioning why developers pay a flat dollar value as opposed to a percentage.

160 years

Through that arrangement with developers, the school district collects about $1 million per year, noted board chair Michael Thomas.

“It would take us 160 years – if land value remained the same – to actually raise the funds that we need in order to help build the schools that this district needs,” Thomas said. “And that’s just for land.”

There is a substantial discrepancy between those provincial rates and the community needs, Thomas emphasized.

Potential schools

The school board has picked out six potential school sites:

  • Riverwalk Elementary
  • Marigold Elementary
  • Port Moody Centre Elementary
  • Fraser Mills Elementary
  • Coquitlam City Centre Elementary
  • Hazel Coy – Elementary

Combined, those six schools are expected to accommodate 2,730 students.

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