B.C. NDP promises new Olympic Village school—a year after Patti Bacchus blames political gamesmanship for delay

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      Regular readers of the Georgia Straight's K-12 education columnist know all about the problems faced by parents in the Olympic Village.

      Just over a year ago, Patti Bacchus wrote a lengthy column about how "political gamesmanship" had delayed a school there. This was more than a decade after the Vancouver school board had identified it as a capital-funding priority.

      She cited an email sent by a parent to the then MLA for Vancouver-Fairview, George Heyman, citing contradictions between what the VSB and Education Minister Rob Fleming were saying.

      "If he really can't get the Treasury Board to approve funding for the long-overdue Olympic Village school, or if he doesn't believe Olympic Village families deserve to have a school in their community, the least he could do is be forthright about it instead of trying to punt the issue back to the school board," Bacchus wrote.

      She revisited this issue at the start of this month. 

      In that column, Bacchus pointed out that Vancouver–False Creek "could be an easily winnable" constituency for the NDP.

      It's been held by B.C. Liberal Sam Sullivan since 2013.

      "But good luck to new NDP candidate Brenda Bailey, who is, by all accounts, a strong challenger," Bacchus wrote. "Despite Sullivan winning by just 560 votes in 2017, and the riding being a potential easy swing to the NDP, the Horgan government stubbornly refused to fund a long-overdue school for the Olympic Village while it had the chance."

      As chair of the Vancouver school board, Patti Bacchus wasn't able to convince the B.C. Liberal government to fund a school for Olympic Village parents.
      Stephen Hui

      Blast from Bacchus did the trick

      Well, today that changed. In an NDP news release, Bailey and Heyman announced a new school for families in the Olympic Village.

      “In 2015 the B.C. Liberals tried to close 19 schools in Vancouver, but we fought tooth and nail to keep them open,” Heyman said. “The last time Andrew Wilkinson was at the cabinet table, he cut services that families in our community relied on, in favour of tax cuts to his wealthy donors. But we’re making choices that invest in people, not profits for the well connected.”

      What's remarkable is that Bacchus was unable to get the B.C. Liberal government to fund a new Olympic Village school when she chaired the Vancouver school board.

      But as a K-12 education columnist for an urban weekly paper, she played a key role in helping parents succeed in their fight.

      Now, all that's left if for the B.C. Liberals to echo the NDP's statement and also promise to fund the school.