Penticton and South Okanagan
Traffic calming delayed at school
Aug 28, 2013 / 4:26 pm
Principal Kelly Jones hoped traffic calming measures would be in place on the busy street by Parkway Elementary, at the start of the school year.
But it appears that won't be the case. Penticton city officials have delayed putting the measures in place to allow for further consultation with area residents.
"I was consulted by the city over the summer about this, and it was supposed to be happening this week," said Jones. "Now I understand we are going to have a meeting in September with the Parent Advisory Committee and neighbours just to look at the history and reasons why we are going ahead with this. I would have loved for this to be in place for the first day of school, but realize it is important for everyone to have their say."
According to Simone Blais, the city's communications officer, there was some traffic calming approved in the 2013 budget.
The first phase of the project on Kinney Avenue involved putting in flexible barriers to narrow the road, thus slowing traffic, and seeing if that worked before any sort of permanent structure went in.
But when word went out about the city planning to start work this week, residents started calling in.
"We did have some complaints, so that is why we are taking the matter to the neighbours," said Blais. "We are hoping to find a middle ground with what the school community's needs are and the needs of neighbours."
According to one neighbour, who did not wish to give her name, she received a letter from the city last Thursday night saying the work was supposed to start Monday.
She complained immediately, because she thought the measure was too extreme.
"I don't think putting in cones to slow the traffic will be affective and it will be an eyesore," she said. "But I do welcome the opportunity to speak at the meeting."
Others in the neighbourhood said they were all for the work.
"I lost my 5-year-old son when he was knocked down by a car coming out of school years ago," said Elizabeth Weir. "So I am for anything that helps with children's safety."
According to Jones, safety has been a concern at the school in recent years, after a grade five student working as a crosswalk monitor was hit by a car in the middle of the crosswalk.
Following the incident, the school focused on educating the public about school safety zones, which included meetings with the RCMP, city officials and community members.
The principal diligently set pylons out on the street in the morning and even put out wooden crossing guards, named Safety Sally and Safety Sam.
But the situation did not come to a halt, with both of the guards being hit by cars. One of guards is now in a wheelchair to get the message across.
The issue was much debated by the city council earlier this year and led to it directing staff to look at traffic issues at the location.
The council did approve the purchase of a speed reader board, with some funding coming from the school's PAC, which has since been installed.
Acting Mayor Helena Konanz said she understands the importance of consulting with the neighbours to get their feedback, but to her the children come first.
"Everyone agrees we need to slow down traffic in that school zone," she said. "My hope would be the work starts soon, because we need to think of the children."
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