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Near miss prompts response to crossing guard, child safety | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey | #hacking | #aihp

KENILWORTH – On Dec. 7 a Wellington North parent reported she and her son were nearly struck by a passing car at Victoria Cross Public School in Mount Forest.

A crossing guard was on the road with a stop sign displayed, the parent wrote in an email notifying the township of the near miss.

Township clerk Karren Wallace followed up by notifying Wellington OPP of the incident and requesting a copy of the police report. 

(The report provided by the OPP was so heavily redacted that Wallace could only determine the responding officer’s name and the date of the incident.)

It’s not the first time the township has been made aware of such  incidents.

In a Jan. 15 report to council on the issue of crossing guard and public safety, Wallace wrote a crossing guard called the township in April to report a near miss. The guard reportedly also said speeding is common, along with profane language from drivers, according to Wallace’s report.

Wallace wrote the OPP has responded with more patrols in school areas.

“The problem is once they’re gone,” Wallace told council last week.

“They just can’t be at every crossing all the time.”

All the current guards employed by the township told Wallace a single guard is acceptable at crossing locations, with the exception of Victoria Cross Public School.

The township has decided to deploy another guard at Durham Street West and Normanby Street North for a two-month trial because of the volume of car and bus traffic, and the way the streets converge.

Councillor Sherry Burke said she avoids the area around school times. 

“There is so much congestion with buses and kids and drop-off and pickup,” she said.

Council wondered what the problem is with offending drivers.

“I don’t know,” Wallace said. 

“Our crossing guards are adults, they wear lime-green coats, they’re standing in the middle of the road with a stop sign.

“If you can’t see that, you probably shouldn’t be driving.” 

The township once equipped guards with hand-held stop signs that would illuminate, but they proved cumbersome and heavy, Wallace explained. 

So the township purchased stop signs mounted on sticks, but those too proved heavy and caught gusts of wind.

Wallace has now purchased another sign that lights up, but it’s rechargeable, reducing the weight. The downside is the $250-per-sign cost.

However, feedback has so far been good, council heard.

“If that helps at all, I would suggest maybe we need to look at that, but I want to get some more information,” Wallace said.

Traffic volume the issue

Mayor Andy Lennox questioned if speed is truly an issue, noting the county is looking at bringing automated speed camera enforcement to Wellington.

“This would be an ideal location to institute that,” the mayor said.

Volume is the issue, Wallace advised.

She also noted in her report that guards are protected under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, meaning the township has an obligation to ensure the safety of those employees, and those employees can refuse work they believe is unsafe.

Councillors voiced support for anything that would help improve safety.

After the two-month double-guard trial ends, staff will reassess and provide a recommendation to council on whether to maintain two guards at Victoria Cross on a permanent basis.

“This may impact the future operating budget and would need to be considered as part of the 2025 budget process,” Wallace stated in her report, noting a cost of $1,768 to hire a guard for 10 hours each week for eight total weeks.

Burke suggested the township also provide more public education on the issue through the local radio station and social media channels.

“Just to get the word out that, ‘hey, this isn’t cool,’” she said.

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