Alexander Academy
Alexander Academy News
July 15, 2019

Private schools target Vancouver's downtown core

Private schools target Vancouver's downtown core

Jon Woodward, Reporter, CTV Vancouver


Published Friday, June 10, 2016 11:05AM PDT 

Four out of five of the independent  schools in Vancouver in the past six years have targeted the downtown core, setting up in multi-story towers, a review of provincial data shows.

The private schools are choosing downtown because of a growing population of school-aged children, and because it’s close to amenities like the SkyTrain, the principal of Alexander Academy said.

“I think what makes us special is that we’re an urban school,” said Principal Berenice Lewis, who encourages private school students to take public transit.

“It’s easy to get downtown. Hop on the SeaBus, get on the SkyTrain, ride your bike, walk,” she said. “It’s so easy to get here.”

The four schools are:

  • Lowell High School, which has 14 students
  • Columbia Academy, which has 30 students
  • Sino Bright School BC, which has 20 students
  • and Alexander Academy, which has 92 students.

All of them receive no public funding. Tuition at Alexander Academy is about $13,000 a year.

Downtown schooling is more convenient for parents who work downtown, said parent Larry Smith, who works in the same downtown tower his son Trenton goes to school in.

“It’s incredibly convenient for me,” he said. “I’m on the seventh floor. If anything happens, I’m here.”

The students who live downtown say getting there is no rush – “You walk, you grab a coffee,” said student Nawaf Al Saleh – and the students who take the train find ways to pass the time.

“I’ll plug in headphones, zone out, take a little while to reflect by myself,” said Victoria Burrows, who started as a summer student during a teacher’s strike with classmate Cassandra Christensen, but ended up staying to complete high school.

“It’s a long commute but I get used to it.”

The move downtown is a trend the Vancouver School Board is also seeing, but for different reasons. Downtown schools are booming as more families are raising kids in condos.

And families are fleeing the expensive single-family neighbourhoods, decreasing enrolment in those schools and putting many of them on the chopping block.

Vancouver’s mayor says the city is trying to bring students back to those schools by replicating what downtown has to offer. He’s proposing allowing condos in areas near schools and transit.

“We’re looking at greater density close to schools in single-family neighbourhoods,” Gregor Robertson said.

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