Wednesday March 8, 2023 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated March 22, 2023]
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
Concern for student safety at crosswalks has been expressed today by Sooke School District (SD62). The plea is for drivers to pay better attention to rules of the road at crosswalks near schools, and to heed the directions from crossing guards.
“Crosswalk and school zone safety is essential for pedestrians and motorists,” says SD62 in a news release today. “It is critical that motorists follow the rules of the roads to ensure that our students and all members of the community are safe while using marked crosswalks, including those with crossing guards.”
According to SD62, in recent weeks, there have been three near misses involving crossing guards in the Westhills neighbourhood near PEXSISEN Elementary School and Centre Mountain Lellum Middle School. In all three occasions the crossing guard had their stop sign out and were in the crosswalk.
“We continually work with all municipalities in the district on road safety and share our experiences with them,” said the SD62 school district in a statement to Island Social Trends.
Not a new problem:
Since the start of this current school year in September 2022 there has been — in particular — concern expressed by parents about the configuration of the roundabout where Langford Parkway merges with West Shore Parkway in the Westhills area. That’s close to where two new schools (PEXSISEN Elementary and Central Mountain Lellum Middle School) opened on nearby Constellation Avenue.
The school year actually began with no crossing guard, and the City of Langford needed to be contacted about how the roundabout was not meeting the needs of pedestrian safety.
The location of schools on or near major routes (like West Shore Parkway in Langford, Latoria Road in Colwood, and Highway 14 in Sooke) is part of the safety challenge.
In Sooke there are four schools directly fronting onto Highway 14: John Muir Elementary, Sooke Elementary, Saseenos Elementary, and Edward Milne Community School high school. | List of SD62 schools and locations
Do any schools presently need a crossing guard? SD62 says that risk assessments are done in May and June to determine if additional crossing guards need to be added to a route. At present, SD62 says there is no crossing guard shortage.
It hasn’t been determined yet if the 2023-24 SD62 operational budget will include more funding for additional crossing guards.
Collaboration with municipalities:
Crossing guards are at many schools in SD62, in the municipalities of Langford, Colwood and Sooke.
At present, the process is that municipalities are asked by SD62 to pay for the cost of crossing guards, while SD62 does the hiring and any required training.
The estimate for a crossing guard in the 2022-23 school year is $160,000, says SD62. That’s paid for by SD62 as well as each of the municipalities.
Crossing guards are presently active at 14 schools (13 elementary and one middle):
- In Langford: Crystal View Elementary, David Cameron Elementary, Happy Valley Elementary, Millstream Elementary, PEXSISEN Elementary, Ruth King Elementary, Savory Elementary.
- In Colwood: Colwood Elementary, Sangster Elementary, Spencer Middle School, Wishart Elementary.
- In Sooke: John Muir Elementary, Saseenos Elementary, Sooke Elementary.
Crossing guard training:
When crossing guards are hired by SD62 there is online training provided, as well as a manual and in-person coaching from another crossing guard, says SD62. The school district also provides training by a consultant at Pro-D sessions.
West Shore RCMP already has a proactive presence at crosswalks in and around school zones.
“Both our Traffic Unit and frontline officers regularly attend and enforce traffic laws at school zones on a daily basis,” says West Shore RCMP media relations officer Cpl Nancy Saggar.
“The challenge is, there are way more schools than officers so we rotate which schools we are enforcing traffic at each day to try and provide equal coverage to the many schools in our jurisdiction,” says Saggar.
The West Shore RCMP receives reports on a regular basis of drivers speeding in school zones. “We therefore implemented daily school zone patrols by officers to address this,” said Saggar today.
Supporting students, reminding drivers:
Meanwhile, the onus is on crosswalk users, including students and parents.
As stated in a news release from SD62 today: “We will continue to work with our children, youth and families to educate them on how to safely use crosswalks. Our priority is that students, staff and community members arrive safely to their destination and we hope that motorists will do their part to ensure that happens.”
These driver reminders were issued today by SD62:
- Make eye contact with children and crossing guards (if available), who are using the cross walk, so they know you have seen them.
- Stop for all pedestrians and do not start driving until all pedestrians have cleared the crosswalk.
- Obey crossing guards and do not start driving until the crossing guard has cleared the crosswalk.
- Do not pass other vehicles at crosswalks.
- Check for children in the crosswalk before turning left at an intersection and check both directions before turning right.
- Follow school zone speed limits.
- Avoid distracted driving.
Fines under the Motor Vehicle Act:
- Fail to yield to pedestrian in a marked or unmarked cross walk – $167 and 3 points
- Disobeying a school guard – $167 and 3 points
- Fail to exercise duty to pedestrian – $138
===== RELATED ARTICLES by ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
SD62 promotes walk-to-school (Aug 31, 2022)
Upgrades on Cedar Hill X Rd following two incidents at crosswalk (Feb 15, 2022)
RCMP seek driver of late-night hit-and-run in Colwood (crosswalk on Wishart Rd in Colwood) (Jan 8, 2021)
Transportation Ministry to review all Highway 14 crosswalks across from schools in Sooke (Dec 18, 2019)
EMCS student injured on Hwy 14 crosswalk (Dec 12, 2019)
===== ABOUT ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
Island Social Trends is a professional news portal at islandsocialtrends.ca . Fully online since mid-2020, Island Social Trends emerged from the extensive groundwork of previous print publications in the west shore: MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), and West Shore Voice News (2014-2020).
Since 2008, journalist and editor Mary P Brooke has taken a socioeconomic lens to news analysis about the west shore and south Vancouver Island region, including BC provincial news, and national news impacts.
Ms Brooke has been covering news of School District 62 (SD62) at the board and committee level, including attending nearly all of their meetings since 2014. Mary P Brooke was a school trustee candidate (SD62 – Belmont Zone / Langford, Colwood, Metchosin and Highlands) in the October 2022 election.
Mary P Brooke holds a B.Sc. in health science and community education as well as Certificate in Public Relations.