Penticton and South Okanagan
Feb 20, 2013 / 5:30 am
Parkway Elementary Principal Kelly Jones has nearly been hit by cars several times as he puts out pylons to slow traffic in the morning.
Indeed, getting people to stop speeding on Kinney Avenue next to the Penticton school is an ongoing problem, so much so that the school has enlisted the aid of the city and RCMP.
On Monday night the council directed staff to look at traffic issues at the location.
“There have been several close calls, I have had close calls, because people are in such a hurry to get somewhere,” said Jones. “I wish they would just understand the safety of kids is more important than where they need to get.”
At the council meeting, Councillor Andrew Jakubeit with the Transportation Advisory Committee discussed a presentation made by the school’s PAC on work the school is doing to ensure the safety of those who use the school and grounds.
Specifically, the school is seeking to put up speed reader boards to address the problem. So far, it has raised $3,800 for one, with a share being requested from the city.
Also sent back to staff was a request for a resolution to be sent to the Southern Interior Local Government Association and Union of British Columbia Municipalities regarding asking the government to change its legislation to permit the use of radar in schools zones.
“It’s a good first step around acknowledging the need to do something more for safety around school zones,” said Jakubeit. “Discussion on this was supportive, and I expect it will come back before council in the next 30 days.”
Jones said this all started two years ago, when a grade five student working as a crosswalk monitor was hit by a car in the middle of the crosswalk.
Her feet were run over and she is still recovering to this day.
Following the incident, the school focused on educating the public on school safety zones, which included meetings with the RCMP, city officials and community members.
The second effort was setting up traffic calming devices. such as pylons on the street and wooden crossing guards in the crosswalk.
But the situation did not end. The guards named Safety Sally and Safety Sam have been struck four times. In one instance, Sam was broken in half. He was put back together and is now in a wheelchair to further get the message across.
A portable speed reader board has gone up a couple of times a year, and Parkway now hopes to purchase a permanent board, for its Adopt a School Zone Program.
Eventually through donations the hope is to have as many as three set up on Kinney and Warren Avenue. The goal is to raise $6,000 to $8,000 per board, which includes the cost of installation.
“We have so many kids walking to school from 5 and up, often not paying as much attention as they should be, combined with drivers not paying attention, and we want to avoid any more accidents,” said Jones. “Our big plea is for big businesses to step up to help make our streets safer.”
Ultimately, Jones said they would like to see programs set up where money from traffic fines went into a safety fund to purchase speed reader boards and other traffic calming devices.
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