08/27/2015 11:20 EDT | Updated 08/27/2016 01:12 EDT

Surrey French immersion short students despite long-standing demand

A loud outcry for French immersion opportunities in Surrey sparked a new program at Cougar Creek Elementary School, but now lack of interest may shut the entire venture down.

After years of Surrey parents asking for shorter wait lists and better access to French immersion the school district did something about it, but ended up surprised when only six families signed up.

"[This] isn't what we anticipated...given the interest expressed," said Doug Strachan, communications manager for the Surrey School District.

Given the lack of enrolment, the new kindergarten program at Cougar Creek might not even start, despite hundreds of people on wait lists for the opportunity.

After calling all 229 families and offering them seats in the new program, Strachan says, the most common response is that the school is too far away.

Cougar Creek School is located at 12236-70A Avenue in South Surrey.

"Some parents might be willing to drive a little further, if it's ten minutes, but if it's 40 to 45 minutes one way, that is not a 'little bit' further," said Mary-Em Waddington, of the Canadian Parents for French in Surrey. 

Sign-up is open for two more weeks. The school district hopes more students are enrolled by then, or it will be forced to cancel the program.