Q&A - School Crossing Guards
Ecole Oceanside Elementary located at Wright road and Hwy 19A, was formerly a middle school that converted to an elementary school in 2014 when there were school closures in Parksville. We have children as young as 4 and 5 years old walking to school with their families and crossing at the intersections at Wright and Hwy 19A, as well as Wright and Wembley rd (a 4 way stop). Members of the PAC have been inquiring and advocating for better safety around our school since it became and elementary school.
There are no sidewalks surrounding the school and children are forced to walk on the shoulder of the road, a place where people often park - Our school has a large population and a lack of available parking, we were successful in having the district be able to purchase and adjacent lot and convert it to a gravel overflow parking for us, which is well utilized, however this does not prevent people from continuing to park within that shoulder area around the school and particularly around the crosswalk at Wembley and Wright - thus, children are having to walk around vehicles into the roadway to get to school.
The intersection at Wright and Hwy 19A is lighted, and provides that safety of having vehicles come to a complete stop and dedicated crossing indicator, while it is still less desirable to have our children walking across to Wright without a sidewalk, it is less concerning overall. Our PAC has been in contact with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to try and improve traffic safety here, with little traction, but we're working on it.
The main concern is with the intersection at Wembley and Wright, (as well as a crosswalk on Wright, directly in front of the school).
While it may be a 4 way stop and a controlled speed zone, this does not stop drivers from performing reckless actions while commuting through this section. I walk my own children across this crosswalk daily and I can attest that drivers often approach at speeds higher than 30km/hr, often not stopping behind the stop line, many drivers "california roll" through this intersection or "tag along" with the vehicle in front of them through the intersection. Personally me and my children have had several near misses while crossing. Another behaviour I often witness at this intersection is that drivers turning left from Wright Rd onto Wembley will often proceed into the intersection, wave frantically at the children to cross the road while they continue to creep towards them. Hence my want of a crossing guard!
Just about every year, of the last five, that my children have attended Ecole Oceanside, I ask at a PAC meeting about crossing guards. The response that I get is that we do not have them because it is an issue of liability insurance - if a volunteer were injured, who would then be the responsible party? The School, MOTI, the City? and the conversation usually ends there without further explanation and an "I'll look into that". Over the last five years the administration has had a lot of change overs, and the response is typically the same every time. This year we are again starting with new administration and this time I am hopeful the conversation can move beyond excuses of what we can't do, to what we can do.
Thank you again for taking the time on this. If it would be at all helpful to provide feedback to our PAC and Administration directly about what we can do to improve school safety, our PAC meetings are open and occur on the second Wednesday evening of every month, 6:30pm in the school library, you are more than welcome to attend, or I am happy to pass along any information at the meeting.