Sino Bright School has pulled out of an agreement with Powell River Waterfront Development Corporation (PRWDC) to purchase a 10-acre parcel of land adjacent to Brooks Secondary School.
A letter has been sent from Sino Bright’s owners to PRWDC withdrawing from an offer to purchase the parcel of land for $300,000. Sino Bright had planned to build a school on the 10-acre property, where students from China could earn their Dogwood Certificate, indicating completion of the BC Grade 12 curriculum, which can facilitate entrance to BC universities. Sino Bright currently has students studying in School District 47 but was looking at expansion of its program here.
City of Powell River mayor Dave Formosa said Sino Bright’s withdrawal was no surprise to him, but as he suspected, Sino Bright is not pulling out of Powell River.
“That’s what I was worried about,” said Formosa. “The students that are here will continue to be here.”
Sino Bright’s owners say they want to continue to be in Powell River and grow Powell River, so that’s optimistic, said Formosa. However, at this time they think it’s better for all concerned that they back out of this project due to some of the backlash, he added.
“Folks know how I feel,” said Formosa. “It has been well publicized and talked about.”
PWRDC president Wayne Brewer said he believes the matter will be discussed under correspondence at the Tuesday, March 19, City of Powell River Committee of the Whole meeting.
“There should be a good, robust discussion at committee of the whole,” said Brewer. “They [Sino Bright] have definitely bailed.”
Brewer said the letter from Sino Bright’s owners indicated that there has to be a dialogue here in town. He said he thinks that the city and School District 47 need to have a chat about whether the matter can be moved forward, and how initiatives can be made to get the community talking in a constructive way so that Sino Bright feels welcome in Powell River.
“Right now, they do not feel welcome,” added Brewer.
Brewer said the Sino Bright School owners have been Canadian citizens since 1992 and their children have gone through the school system in the Lower Mainland and graduated from UBC.
“Those kids are Canadian,” he said. “Some of our fellow citizens here have the nerve to call them communist Chinese government. It’s outrageous and I’m embarrassed.”
Brewer said that Powell River as a community has work to do to let some fellow citizens realize they are welcome here, because under current circumstances, “we’ve really dropped the ball.”
Sino Bright School is a clean pillar of economic activity and revitalization, said Brewer.
“How can we be opposed to that?” he added.
In a letter to PRWDC on Sino Bright Investments letterhead, Yufang Sun said Sino Bright has not given up and truly wants to be a positive addition to the community. However, they do not want to move forward given all the negativity, comments and controversy directed at the project.
“Moving ahead in the midst of controversy would not be fair to our students, staff, organization and the community,” said Yufang. “We thought because international education was one of the goals for School District 47, and for economic development in the city, that the community supported the actions of the corporation and city officials. We also understand the city is taking part in a program to promote immigration and business expansion with international education as a desired outcome, so it is difficult for us to understand how this became negative. We hope our decision will make things better as we want our students and school welcomed in your community and we want the process to be fair and equitable to the community.”
The school’s goal is to provide a chaperoned BC public school experience for its students in a location outside of the metro Vancouver area. Unlike other international programs, parents of the students want their children in dorm-like accommodation with familiar chaperones, as well as local chaperones to ensure safety and well-being.
“Our first priority was and still is to find suitable accommodations and allow the program to grow through our partnership with School District 47,” said Yufang. “Our plan is to remove ourselves and allow a public process to take place regarding the lands below Brooks. Thank you for all those who have supported us and continue to support us.”