Growth in Richmond’s City Centre is expected to result in a 92 per cent increase in student enrollment in the catchment area.
Photo by Chung Chow
Trend suggests 3,000 more students by 2033
By Don Fennell
Published 2:18 PDT, Fri August 30, 2019
Last Updated: 2:13 PDT, Wed May 12, 2021
But international enrollment forecast to be flat
If demographic trends and projected new residential development is realized, there will be close to 3,000 more students enrolled in Richmond elementary and secondary schools by 2033.
Most of the increase, 92 per cent, will be in the city centre where the majority of the proposed new residential units are under application, says Richmond School District spokesperson David Sadler.
“(The school district) projects that Kindergarten to Grade 12 enrollment will grow between 2018 and 2033 by approximately 2,787 students,” he says.
However opposite that forecast, the number of international students—which went from none in 1998 to 961 in 2018 (169 in elementary and 792 in secondary schools) is projected to be “relatively flat” heading toward 2033.
The city centre area, also known within School District 38 as the North Central Community of Schools Region and including Sea Island, features two high schools: MacNeill (fed by Anderson, Cook, Talmey and Tomsett elementaries) and Richmond (fed by Ferris, Brighouse and Sea Island elementaries).
With a current enrollment of about 721, MacNeill is expected to grow rapidly due to proposed new housing in the catchment area. The school is currently significantly below capacity but is forecast to reach normal capacity of 1,200 by 2033, with a steady increase of 10 to 15 students per year.
Richmond High, which includes a portion of the city centre area which has a declining trend to 2024, is slightly below capacity but is projected to grow rapidly after 2025 due to anticipated future housing. Current enrollment is about 1,097 students.
Enrollment at Anderson includes both regular and Early French Immersion programs. French Immersion intake has been restricted as a measure to reduce future overcrowding, and enrollment is projected to exceed operating capacity by 2021 as infill densification continues in the schools catchment.
Cook, meanwhile, is currently over capacity and there are five portable on site. A capital seismic project is under construction that will provide enhanced capacity by 2020.
Talmey is approaching capacity, with projected overcrowding after 2022, while Tomsett’s enrollment projected tog row rapidly due to urban densification.
Enrollment at Ferris is currently below capacity, but will gradually grow after seismic upgrading is completed in 2020, while the number of students at Brighouse is forecast to grow rapidly due to housing densification. A new elementary school on the Dover Park site may relieve longterm overcrowding.
Finally, Sea Island has accommodated K-3 enrollment with students attending Brighouse in Grade 4 to 7. But with enrollment significantly below operating capacity, and only two classrooms occupied in 2018, it appears to be unsustainable for the future.