Dave Unrau has two good reasons for enthusiastically signing up to be involved with Silver Star Elementary School’s pace car program.
The worship director at East Hill Community Church wants his church to be a good neighbour. And Unrau is also the parent of a Silver Star student.
“Our church has heard that the safety of Silver Star students is very important,” said Unrau at the official launch of the program at the school Tuesday morning.
“As a parent, I expect my son to be able to walk to school safely. I don’t think safety is an option. I think it’s a right. I like the pace car program. It’s something we as parents can do now. It’s up to us to set the example for others to follow.”
The pace car program is a locally delivered, nationwide program that focuses on raising awareness around speed reduction in the community, especially in school zones and pedestrian-dense areas.
Parents sign pledge sheets when joining the program and receive a window decal or bumper sticker to display on their vehicles.
Silver Star becomes the second Vernon school to take part in the pace car program, joining Okanagan Landing Elementary.
“We’ve had many close calls due to speeding in the school zones,” said Melissa Verleg, Silver Star parent advisory council spokesperson.
“We’re hoping the pace car program will slow traffic down and make it safer for our students walking to and from school.”
Silver Star principal Tracy Godfrey joined Vernon Mayor Rob Sawatzky and Coun. Patrick Nicol in walking with about 30 students and parents from Lakeview Park to the school to officially kickoff the program.
“We’re excited about the pace car program,” said Godfrey.
“Research in other cities has shown that this program helps reduce speeds at school zones which ultimately will improve safety for our students.”
Added Sawatzky: “The East Hill neighbourhood was included because of active travel plans worked on by UBC Okanagan, Interior Health and the City of Vernon. Silver Stare Elementary is ideal for the program because of the nature of the neighbourhood. It’s relatively compact. The whole catchment area is within one-and-a-half kilometres. That’s all walkable.”
A handful of students displayed a banner that they made for the occasion as they walked with dignitaries from the park to the school.
“The main idea is to slow traffic down and make it safer for all the kids at Silver Star,” said Gordon Harmon, a Grade 6 student.