Cherryville busing challenges generate public ideas

Suggestions ranging from a walking school bus to car-pooling were brought up Monday

Suggestions ranging from a walking school bus to car-pooling were brought up Monday as members of the Regional District of North Okanagan’s Cherryville advisory planning committee met with concerned parents and Vernon School District officials to discuss busing.

“Monday evening’s public meeting was a tremendous demonstration of the effectiveness of Cherryville’s community spirit,” said Adrian Johnson, the district’s acting secretary-treasurer. “Many residents expressed concern at the funding challenges the school district faces.

“Suggested solutions raised included a ‘walking bus’, whereby adults accompany groups of students along roads to school or a school bus stop to assist safety.”

The district has recently adjusted bus routes and stops so that many students who previously have been picked up near their home now have to walk up to 2.4 km to a school or a school bus stop.

As well, some rural routes have been cut, meaning that some students need to find alternative transport to either the nearest school bus stop or school.

“Historically, the school district has provided a level of service that significantly exceeded this minimum,” said Johnson “Funding reductions have led to the district enforcing this regulation in Vernon and Coldstream in two phases over the past two years.”

The third phase of this change is being introduced in the Lumby and Cherryville areas, starting in September.

The main concern has been the elimination of the route along the portion of Sugar Lake Road north of the junction with Aumond Road.

“Historically, it has cost the school district about $18,000 a year to drive beyond this stop,” said Johnson. “There are seven students registered who live further than 2.4 km away from this stop. Those students will need to find their own transportation to get to this stop, and the district will provide families with eligible students financial assistance to help with this.”

He said eligible families will receive a cheque for transportation assistance at 20 cents per km per family plus 30 cents per child with a maximum of $10 per family per day.

Hank Cameron, with the regional district, said about two dozen people were in attendance at Monday’s meeting, once again expressing concern over the Sugar Lake Road route.

“The route that is of greatest concern, and the fact that it’s an industrial, high speed road is the Sugar Lake Road, that is our main focus,” said Cameron.

“There is a gravel truck every 10 minutes and logging trucks are sometimes up to 40 a day so it’s very dangerous for kids to be walking on.”

Johnson said the school district receives no funding for the provision of transportation and any funds spent on busing would otherwise be spent on education.

School District’s 23 and 83 have a 4.0 km walk limit for students in kindergarten to Grade 3 and 4.8 for older students. District 23 (Central Okanagan) charges $200 a year for all riders.

Johnson said Cherryville buses transport students not just to the elementary school there but also to Charles Bloom secondary school in Lumby.

“As has been the case for many years, these buses are cost-effectively located either in Cherryville or Lumby when not in use. Where the driver lives is not relevant to our costs,” he said.

Cameron said parents are willing to help but they don’t want to give up the Sugar Lake route, as up to 25 kids are currently using it.

“The lower part they want to amalgamate into two stops so we’re talking to the parents and coming up with a strategy and how we can help, but what we’d like to do is make sure the bus goes up Sugar Lake Road as it always has.

“They are saying it’s the parents’ responsibility to get their kids so really it’s an approach towards less service and it’s a gradual taking away.”

Cameron said the next step for RDNO is to send a letter to district superintendent Joe Rogers.

“We’re also reaching out to other school districts,” he said.

A document explaining phase three changes to busing has been sent to Lumby and Cherryville families who use school district transportation, along with notification of their school bus stop for next year.

“The provincial government has mandated that our school district find more than $800,000 of cost savings for the 2016/17 school year,” said Johnson.

“These cost savings are not to impact education. Over the next year, district staff, in consultation with parents, students and other stakeholders, will be further reviewing school busing across the district and other administrative costs to identify how this can be achieved.


“Unfortunately further changes to school transportation, including charging families, remain a possibility for the 2016/17 school year.”



Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vernon-area photographer Carla Hunt snapped this photo of the ‘biggest bobcat’ she’s ever seen Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. (Carla Hunt - Contributed)
‘Biggest bobcat I’ve ever seen’: Vernon-area photographer

Photographer Carla Hunt captures wild cat on camera

Family Literacy Week is being celebrated in downtown Vernon with the first ever Story-Window Walk Jan. 21-31. (Literacy Society of North Okanagan)
Catch a Yeti in downtown Vernon

Literacy Week celebrated with first ever Story-Window Walk

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

A COVID-19 outbreak at Vernon's Heritage Square long-term care home has claimed seven people. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Two more COVID-19 deaths at Vernon care home

Heritage Square has now lost seven people due to the outbreak

A Salvation Army bell is rung by Michael Cronin as he staffs the charity’s red donation kettle in front of a grocery store, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020, in Lynden, Wash. The familiar ringing of handbells has gone silent at many Canadian shopping malls this year as the Salvation Army tries to cope with COVID-19 rules at a time of dropping donations. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Elaine Thompson
Record-breaking Christmas for Vernon Salvation Army

$640K and significant food donations pour into local organization ahead of holidays

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

(Big White Ski Resort photo)
13 more cases of COVID-19 tied to Big White Mountain cluster

This brings the total case count to 175, of which 32 cases are active

RCMP on scene at a home on Sylvania Cres. (Phil McLachlan /Capital News/FILE)
Two Kelowna men arrested after Rutland home invasion

Two Kelowna men, including a prolific offender, facing slew of potential charges

Most Read