Safety still an issue at Beairsto

My wife and I read the recent article in The Morning Star regarding the need for crossing guards or traffic monitors on 27th Street at Beairsto Elementary.

We have been advocating for crossing guards or traffic monitors for several years, with my wife actively seeking assistance from community policing, the school district, the city, BCAA and other community groups.

We thank Coun. Scott Anderson for inquiring on behalf of Beairsto parents. However, it was disappointing to hear Coun. Catherine Lord’s response, which seemed to put the responsibility for this issue back onto parents.

Of course we accept that it is our responsibility to teach our children traffic safety.

We live two blocks from Beairsto and my wife has walked with our young children for almost four years, ensuring that they are watching for cars, looking both ways and using all designated crosswalks and sidewalks.

What we cannot assume responsibility for is the reckless actions of others, primarily motorists at this very busy intersection.

We have had several incidents of drivers failing to watch before turning into students’ paths when the crossing sign clearly indicated that it was the pedestrians’ turn to walk.

More than once, one of my daughters has almost been hit by a vehicle after having looked both ways and then stepped into the crosswalk, only to have my wife yank them out of the path of a driver turning into the intersection…hurrying to or from businesses or the school.

Other concerned parents have even witnessed semi-trucks driving on the curb at the intersection.

We are also aware that the chain-link fence on the corner of 27th Street and 35th Avenue has been driven into and ruined.

As well as the street name sign at that same intersection being hit and pushed down during school hours.

These incidences have occurred directly where students stand as they are waiting to cross the road.

These are just a handful of the dangerous situations that have occurred and thankfully there were no students standing there at those times.

The City of Vernon has invested a lot of resources into walk to school and bike to school campaigns, but at the same time, it has agreed that the intersection is not safe for children through traffic study reports.

We are continuously hearing other people (the school district, the city) repeat Coun. Lord’s sentiments, namely that it is a parent’s responsibility to keep their kids safe.

However, we feel that this response is far too sweeping, and myopic, failing to understand that while we can teach our kids to be perfectly safe, we can’t control the negligent actions of others (motorists) at this intersection.

My wife has been repeatedly told by different authorities that this intersection is far too dangerous for Grade 7 students to volunteer their help at for safe crossing.

So surely it is too dangerous for any elementary school aged child to navigate on their own.

Thankfully, my wife is able to walk my children both ways. She is willing to do this for years to come in order to ensure their safety.

However, by doing this we greatly feel that our children are being robbed of the independence they could gain by being able to commute to and from school on their own.

Along with many other parents, we are trying to raise our children to be responsible and mature citizens of this community.

We have been told that children in B.C. have a right to education under provincial law.

Should they not also have the right to be safe as they travel to and from that place of education?

This is why we need some type of crossing guards or traffic monitors at this intersection to protect our safety-conscious children from the negligence of motorists navigating a highway.

Jared Penner

Vernon