Stepping out from in front of a school bus, Keegan Wolfe was struck by a truck.
“I’m lucky to be alive,” the 13-year-old told the city’s elected officials during this week’s city council meeting.
“It is a parent’s worst nightmare to get a call at work stating that your child has been hit by a vehicle and was being taken to the hospital with unknown injuries,” his mother, Jasmine Robertson, said of the incident, which took place on Jan. 30.
“It is a call that I hope to never have to get again and hope that other parents never have to get, as well.”
The blow was directly to Wolfe’s knee – luckily bending his knee in the correct direction.
“Unfortunately, his knee was severely bruised and he was not able to participate in the many activities he enjoys partaking in at school,” Robertson said.
“I know that this event would not have happened to my son had Bylaw 54 been repealed sooner and education brought out to our schools, homes and people.”
The solution, the two speakers and local mothers Cynthia Mamer and Lori Stevenson told council, is to repeal Bylaw 54, which prohibits school buses from using flashing safety lights and stop arms in city limits.
In October, the city’s last batch of elected officials backed the bylaw’s repealing in principle, placing the implementation of a replacement on the heads of the subsequently elected city council.
It’s more complicated than simply repealing the bylaw, the city’s elected officials told the delegates.
Mayor Greg Dionne noted that a stop arm might provide students with a false sense of security.
Coun. Tim Scharkowski said that he’d like to see more research done regarding the effectiveness of stop arms.
It is a parent’s worst nightmare to get a call at work stating that your child has been hit by a vehicle and was being taken to the hospital with unknown injuries. - Jasmine Robertson
Coun. Ted Zurakowski suggested that a safer approach would be for students to be dropped off on the same side of the street as their destination, cutting out any traffic concerns.
“Do you think it would have been more safe, when you get out of that bus you go straight up to your home, or straight up to your school, rather than crossing the street and walking in front of the bus across the street?” he asked Wolfe.
“Yeah, this wouldn’t have happened,” Wolfe answered.
Currently, school board policy is to drop off students on the correct side of the road whenever possible.
“It may not be convenient, but it’s (always) possible,” Zurakowski said.
Although the delegates urged council to speed up the process, they opted to have administration conduct additional research to determine if the use of stop arms has been demonstrated to reduce accidents and near misses.
If so, they plan on lobbying the provincial government for a uniform provincial approach to the use of these devices in municipalities.
Early on in the presentation, Mamer said that the research has already been done.
“That is why it is mandatory by the Government of Canada that school buses be equipped with these safety features,” she told council.
As part of administration’s research, Coun. Lee Atkinson suggested that Yorkton, which imposed a ban on bus stop arms in loading zones only, be investigated. If Yorkton has found success, he said that their bylaw might be worth emulating.