Re: No-call-too-small ‘crucial’ for Surrey, Oct. 2.
I’m glad to see the emphasis on increased policing in Surrey.
For years, we’ve had only half the police that Vancouver and the other Lower Mainland cities have, relative to population; no wonder our police have had to ignore many incidents.
And, as we know, Surrey – and the rest of our south Fraser region – has also been shortchanged in other significant areas: transit, health-care facilities, school programs and college and university programs. These areas also have a significant impact on our community.
In particular, the healthy growth of our region has been held back by the continual shortchanging of our regional university, Kwantlen Polytechnic. KPU has never been able to provide a level of access to further education like B.C.’s other regional colleges and universities have been able to. It has never received much more than half the funding, per resident in our region, that the other college regions get.
Although 21 per cent of B.C.’s population lives in Kwantlen’s region, KPU gets only 11 per cent of the funding. If KPU were funded at equitable levels, it would have room for 7,000 more students – more of our residents would have good jobs, and our region’s employers wouldn’t have to search elsewhere for qualified employees.
Another barrier to Surrey’s and the south Fraser region’s economic health and social vitality is the inadequate amount of upper-level English-language training (ELT) offered in our region.
Over 300,000 immigrants live here, including 30 per cent of B.C.’s recent immigrants – and for almost all recent immigrants, English is not their mother tongue.
Up until 2013, KPU was only getting one-quarter of the funding for ELT that the rest of B.C. got, relative to the number of people who needed it. Then the provincial government, in violation of its own University Act regulations, eliminated all funding for ELT programs at Kwantlen and B.C.’s other colleges and universities.
Now, KPU can only offer English-language training for residents if it’s paid for by profits from international students’ tuition – and that’s not nearly enough to offer even the limited amount of ELT that KPU offered before these absurd cuts.
I hope the candidates in the upcoming civic election will tell us what they plan to do to make sure the provincial government lives up to its rhetoric, and stops shortchanging our region so badly.
Geoff Dean, Surrey