Going up against what they perceive to be an antiquated bylaw, local mothers Cynthia Mamer and Lori Stevenson said that Bylaw 54 is putting youth at risk.
The bylaw, which passed in 1983, prohibits school bus drivers from using their flashing red lights and stop arm to halt traffic while children get on and exit the bus.
Moving to Prince Albert from Ontario, Stevenson said that she was surprised to see Prince Albert disallow these safety devices.
“This is law in Ontario. I couldn’t believe, when I came here and it wasn’t,” she said, noting additional surprise at the lack of policies in place that prevent children from crossing the street.
“If nobody had to cross the street, I don’t know if we’d be sitting here right now,” she said.
The mothers cite two incidents of children getting injured as being potentially preventable, had the proper policies been in place or Bylaw 54 removed.
On Jan. 9, 2009, a six-year-old boy was getting off a school bus and was struck by a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction, and on May 15 of this year, a six-year-old girl was hit when loading onto a school bus.
The mothers were inspired to act by both of these incidents, as well as potential dangers to their own young children.
“My kids did have to cross the street at a corner, not even an intersection. So, now that I think of it, I’m very thankful now that there were no incidences because of that,” Mamer said.
Mamer and Stevenson have already met with the Prince Albert Catholic School Board, where they received support, and the Saskatchewan Rivers School Board, which is scheduled to make a decision by the end of the month.
My kids did have to cross the street at a corner, not even an intersection. So, now that I think of it, I’m very thankful now that there were no incidences because of that. - Cynthia Mamer
The ultimate decision, however, is with city council, who they will give a presentation to during Thursday’s city council meeting, at 5 p.m.
City council’s decision isn’t cut-and-dry, Mamer admits, with a few trouble spots in the community coming to mind.
“If this bylaw is removed, what do you do about those schools that are in high traffic arterial roadways?” she asked. “Queen Mary (Community School) always comes up.
Mamer hopes to see Prince Albert follow Yorkton’s lead. The City of Yorkton repealed their comparable bylaw in 2006, stipulating that all school zones have reduced speed limits, something not all Prince Albert schools currently have.
This, Mamer said, is their next goal, once the dust settles on the Bylaw 54 issue.
“There’s only a select few that have 30 km/h in school zones, but there are many schools — the majority of which, do not.”
The Oct. 24 civic election is on their side, they believe. With all of the city’s school board trustees and city councillors out campaigning, now’s the best time for people to voice their concerns, Mamer said.
“I’d like to encourage people who have been victims of these types of circumstances to make a statement or come forward on how this has affected their lives.”