Premier Jim Prentice has just announced what he calls the most expansive school infrastructure commitment in Alberta’s history.
Prentice says over the next 10 years the government will complete 230 projects in terms of new schools or the modernization of existing schools.
Some of these projects have already been announced.
Prentice says the first phase included 35 school projects announced in 2011. He says 31 of those projects are open or in the process of opening.
Phase 2 included 50 news schools and 70 modernizations. The province says all but five of those projects will ready to accept students in 2016.
Today’s announcement — or Phase 3 — includes 55 new schools and 20 modernization projects. Out of those, the province has promised 12 new schools for Calgary and 15 new schools for Edmonton,
The overall cost of the projects is expected to cost roughly $2 billion, including more than $43 million earmarked for school boards and planning.
Roughly $100 million will also become available right away to fast-track school maintenance projects.
Prentice says the projects can be direct builds or public-private partnerships (P3). He said all options are on the table.
Wildrose skeptical of PC timeline
The province says the projects are needed as Alberta’s population continues to grow rapidly.
“Alberta’s prosperous future has drawn young families from all over Canada and the world to our province,” said Prentice in a release. “This government is listening to Albertans and acting quickly to deliver on the priorities of Alberta families and communities.”
The province expects another million people over the next 10 years, which would bump the population up to roughly 4.7 million.
“The schools Mr. Prentice and his unelected education minister have announced today are long overdue,” said Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson.
“However, given the PC track record on actually delivering promised new schools, we are less than optimistic they will actually get built in a timely fashion.”
He said the PCs are just responding to the Wildrose’s commitment last week to spend $2 billion over four years on new schools and school maintenance needs across Alberta.
Liberal education critic Kent Hehr says the new school announcement is nothing but electioneering ahead of this month’s byelections planned in four Alberta ridings.