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Parents say without new school in Olympic Village, community is being torn apart

Last Updated May 11, 2019 at 7:12 pm PDT

Summary

Simon Fraser Elementary had only 40 spots available for the coming term, with 27 of those taken by siblings

Parents say without a new school being built, their community is being torn apart

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Some parents in Olympic Village are planning to pack up and move away, saying a new school is desperately needed to deal with the rapidly-growing neighbourhood.

A couple dozen parents and their children gathered at Hinge Park in Olympic Village Saturday afternoon, rallying for a school to be built in the community. They built a ‘school’ out of cardboard boxes to get their point across.

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Simon Fraser Elementary had only 40 spots available for the coming term, with 27 of those taken by siblings. And while the school board has plans to build a school in Olympic Village, parents are frustrated those plans haven’t been realized, saying the community is being torn apart.

Brent Flory is one of these parents. He’s lived in Olympic Village for four years and attended the rally with his young children.

He says his children are being sent off to schools far away, uprooting them from their friends and community.

“We’re weighing strongly leaving because she’s a kindergartner, those are going to be her friends, and she’s being splintered away from her current friends,” he says.

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He says he had hoped to raise his family in the heart of Vancouver, but without many schools in the area, Flory says it may be time to pack up and look at other options.

“We’re looking at over a two-hour-a-day commute on bus, just to get her to school,” he says. “To think that’s doable for my wife with our daughter and our three-year-old son, that’s not realistic.”

Fiorella Pinillos has been living in False Creek for two years. She has an eight-month-old baby and three year old who will be starting school next year.

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She says the area is densifying and growing, so building the school needs to happen soon.

“Every year, it’s the same story. Parents are forced to drive out of the village to take their kids to different schools because the school in this catchment is already full,” she says. “Communities are breaking apart.”

Local families rely on each other to pick up children from school, and kids often head off to school together. But she says that can’t happen if parents are forced to head far out of their communities.

“This really impacts everybody’s lives, all the family’s lives,” she says. “We have lots of families that have to move out of the village because the commute is just impossible.”

– With files from Jonathan Szekeres