Friday September 1, 2023 | SOOKE, BC [Updated Sept 3, 2023]
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
Also see: Church/Throup Roundabout Construction Traffic Update (Sept 3)
Today the District of Sooke was pleased to announce that Active School Route signs are being installed on safe routes to schools.
It’s being called a community-based initiative to encourage students to walk or wheel to school.
“As sidewalks and trails are extended in Sooke, the program looks to shift travel to and from local schools to provide a healthy way for families to start their day – and help manage vehicle congestion that occurs around school sites,” the District of Sooke said in a statement today.
Starts with École Poirier Elementary:
The campaign is beginning with École Poirier Elementary as the largest elementary school in Sooke. The school has 398 students (nearing capacity but still has a few spots for Fall 2023, according to SD62).
District of Sooke staff had approached Poirier Principal Tess Vally and Parent Advisory Council President Jen Temple with the idea.
Journey Middle School is located next to École Poirier Elementary. But most of the other schools in Sooke are located right on provincial Highway 14 (e.g. John Muir Elementary, Sooke Elementary, Saseenos Elementary, and the Edward Milne high school), which poses additional challenges for safe routes to school.
Supports parents who commute:
For students who live within walking or cycling distance from school, or for parents or guardians who might be commuting beyond Sooke for work, making use of an Active School Meeting Spot which will offer a transportation alternative.
Benefits to walking & cycling:
- Active school travel helps school-aged children meet the recommendation to accumulate at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, which is associated with improved physical and mental health.
- Increasing physical activity specifically associated with the school journey increases alertness and attention during the school day. Physical activity supports healthy brain development, which can lead to improved learning and academic outcomes.
- Reducing the number of children being driven to school reduces greenhouse gas emissions and particulate air pollution around the school, improving air quality. [That would include driving by school bus as well as by car or private vehicle]
- Reducing traffic volumes creates safer school zones.
- Less congestion around schools can help save everyone time, especially during busy mornings.
Eases traffic load during construction:
Additionally, given the Church/Thoup Roundabout and Charters Corridor Project, the active school routes may offer a creative solution to managing the anticipated construction-related vehicle traffic while work is completed.
Helps with SD62 bus transportation strategy:
SD62 is struggling to continue offering a full complement of bus route service to students, and for a few years now has been looking at ways to encourage families to have their children walk or roll to school.
Last year SD62 assured that students in rural areas would continue to have bus transportation, but started encouraging families in urban areas (especially if within walking/cycling distance) to consider other means of travel to and from school.
École Poirier Elementary is served by nine SD62 school bus routes.
Walk and Roll Map:
A map showing walking and biking routes, along with meeting spot locations for families with students attending École Poirier Elementary, is available online.
The District of Sooke will be working with École Poirier Elementary to receive feedback on the initiative with hopes of adapting and expanding the program to other schools in Sooke.
===== ABOUT THE WRITER:
Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Cert PR is the founder, editor and publisher of Island Social Trends. She has provided socioeconomic news insights about the west shore and Sooke region since 2008, expanding into provincial news in 2018 and national news along the way. Political news has been a mainstay of her news coverage, including municipal and school district.
A parent of four (now grown) children, Ms Brooke has experienced the K-12 public school system (SD61 and SD62) as a parent and has now seen the long-term impacts of a challenged educational system on her family as the years have gone by. She ran for school trustee in SD62 (west shore of Greater Victoria) in 2022. | SD62 news archive
Mary P Brooke now reports with the BC Legislative Press Gallery. Her coverage of provincial news was daily in 2019-2021 with coverage of COVID news, but also before that as local MLA John Horgan became premier in 2017.
Island Social Trends has been online at IslandSocialTrends.ca since mid-2020. Before that, the publication was called West Shore Voice News (printed weekly, 2014-2020), and before that Sooke Voice News (printed weekly, 2011-2013) which had emerged from MapleLine Magazine (printed quarterly 2008-2010). | About Island Social Trends