Parents and members of R.E. Mountain Secondary’s PAC are ramping up concerns about student pedestrian safety, after numerous near-misses with cars, and because the dark days of fall are now here.
Mountain is the second most-populated school in Langley, functioning way over capacity, and there are no sidewalks for students to safely walk to and from school. Students must walk on the shoulder of busy 202A Street.
Parents and the PAC have been calling on the Township to do something since last year, said one parent, Dan Hunter. He has two children going to Mountain.
“Are they going to wait for a child to die?” asks Hunter about the Township.
He points to the tragedy at a Surrey school last month where a girl was killed and other students injured after a motorcycle barreled through them while they were crossing the road.
But a temporary solution could come to the school by early in the new year, said Township head planner Ramin Seifi Wednesday morning. At the next Township council meeting on Monday, he will be asking council to approve funding for asphalt curbing to be put in.
Hunter’s son leaves the house around 7:30 a.m. in the dark to get to school.
“He has told me of all sorts of close calls with vehicles bumping a student or my son having to grab someone out of the way of a vehicle. The traffic is getting much worse.”
Mountain is overpopulated and was built at a time when Willoughby was a quiet area of acreage homes and farms. Willoughby is now bursting at the seams with high-density housing. The Langley Events Centre is beside the school, and some motorists choose 202A Street as an alternative to 200 and 208 Streets.
Last year, the school PAC asked the Township to respond to their concerns. In March, Seifi replied that eventually that road will be turned into four lanes.
In the meantime, the proper solution is to put in asphalt curbs and better lighting. Seifi estimates that will cost $30,000.
Township Councillor Charlie Fox tried to get money for a temporary fix to the no-sidewalk problem on 202A Street during the afternoon session of council on Monday, Sept. 23.
The motion by Fox wanted council to include money for some kind of “safe, yet temporary” measure to make the road safer in the 2014 budget process.
There is “no identified sidewalk other than the delineated white line along the shoulder of the road, both north and south bound” his resolution said.
Something needs to be done quickly to provide students with a safe route to and from school, Fox told council.
“I’ve done my homework,” he said. “My wife worked there for 20 years. She was a counsellor.”
Councillor Grant Ward thought that was rushing things.
He convinced the rest of council to order up a staff report on the issue, including a summary of “complaints, incidents, options and costs” before making a decision.
Councillor Kim Richter and Fox voted against the referral. But Seifi confirmed that he will bring the safety proposal to council at its Oct. 7 meeting.
Hunter created a Facebook page regarding the safety concerns for students and within a day, numerous comments about close calls were put up by students and parents.
Seifi confirmed that staff will be recommending to council to install asphalt curbing.
“We are asking for the funding to be put into the 2014 budget, but we hope to begin work on it as early as January or February if council agrees to expedite the project,” said Seifi.