Bus bylaw repealing receives council support

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Tyler Clarke
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Current bus safety practices aren’t as safe as they should be, city council declared on Thursday, throwing their unanimous support behind the repealing of Bylaw 54.

 

A group showed up to support local mothers Cynthia Mamer and Lori Stevenson’s bid for council to repeal Bylaw 54 on Thursday. 

Current bus safety practices aren’t as safe as they should be, city council declared on Thursday, throwing their unanimous support behind the repealing of Bylaw 54.

The bylaw, which passed in 1983, prohibits school buses from using flashing safety lights and stop arms.

“There are more children taking buses now than in 1983, which can be attributed to the increase in dual-income families, namely working mothers who would have walked their children to school,” local mother Lori Stevenson told city council.

Appearing alongside Stevenson was fellow delegate and local mother Cynthia Mamer and a crowd of supporters with signs showing their support.

The delegates cited two incidents in the past few years wherein children were injured after getting off school buses, with Coun. Ted Zurakowski adding a third incident he was made aware of to their list.

After a lengthy discussion, council unanimously backed the delegates’ bid to have the bylaw repealed, though the formal repeal process won’t take place until city administration present’s a replacement bylaw for council’s consideration.

This replacement bylaw could stipulate a multitude of new bus safety regulations, the details of which have yet to be decided, though council shared some insight on Thursday.

“I’ve come to believe that the safest way for kids to get on and off of a school bus is to get off, out the door, on the curb, and on to their destination,” Zurakowski said.

“I believe there’s absolutely no reason, no special circumstance, whereby a child should have to cross the street … If the bus drivers tell you that it’s difficult, I say, I don’t care, let’s make it happen.

I believe there’s absolutely no reason, no special circumstance, whereby a child should have to cross the street … If the bus drivers tell you that it’s difficult, I say, I don’t care, let’s make it happen. Coun. Ted Zurakowski

“If that means the bus driver has to go around the block again to drop off on the correct side of the street, then that’s what they should be doing.”

The school boards are currently without policies dictating that this take place, Mamer and Stevenson clarified, though the Catholic School Board does have group pickup and drop-off locations.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t have to cross the street after the bus leaves, which creates another danger,” Coun. Lee Atkinson said.

Another concern is in winter pickup and drop-off, wherein students wait in cold weather for potentially long periods of time.

“We don’t have shelters for children, so in the winters it won’t exactly be pleasant for someone standing there waiting for a bus that might come late,” Atkinson said.

Not all areas of the city implement 30 km/h school-side speed limits, with Riverside and Holy Cross Schools coming to mind, Atkinson noted of another area of safety that requires attention.

The repealing of Bylaw 54 won’t end-all solution to bus safety concerns, Coun. Charlene Miller suggested.

“It’s not going to stop speeders from speeding through the arms when they come down,” she said. “I don’t want that false sense of security that people stop at all lights, because they don’t.”

Whatever city council comes out of the Oct. 24 election will decide whether to carry through with the repealing of Bylaw 54, as well as the implementation of a new bus safety bylaw. 

Organizations: Catholic School Board, Riverside and Holy Cross Schools

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