School safety concerns get little attention

Coghlan Fundamental Elementary is a small school and safety concerns are given little more than lip service.

Editor: It disheartened me to read that the area around Coghlan Elementary is not being considered for traffic calming.

As a parent of Coghlan Fundamental Elementary, I’d like to point out the following:

• We do not live in a hustle and bustle community like Willoughby, which is expanding rapidly in population and in housing density;

• We have no big brother school that can speak on our behalf or help us when we are down, such as R.E. Mountain Secondary School;

• We have gone as concerned parents and raised our safety concerns over the congestion on the roadway at school time to the principal, the school district and to Township, but everyone appears more interested in escalating the issue to another level where it gets stopped due to bureaucracy;

• As a PAC member and president, I have stood before the mayor and engineering department and made a heartfelt presentation on the issues our children and their parents face every day going to our little rural school. We have open ditches, no sidewalks, and we face agricultural traffic and feeder traffic from the freeway each and every day;

• The drivers we face do not want to recognize they are in a school zone — this even holds true for one of the district school bus drivers who uses this roadway to get another school’s children to and from school safely, while going above the posted school zone speed limit; and

• In winter due to the nature of country roadways, we face excessive icing and partially plowed roadways at best. Yet only the street the school is on gets plowed as a priority, according to the Township. The others are left as zero priority, even though parents have no option but to drive their children to and from school.

In 2011, we lost a former student due to a horrific traffic accident at the intersection of Robertson Crescent and 256 Street. A Grade 7 student was also a passenger in that vehicle and sustained serious injury.

The landscape at the accident scene still bears the scars of that accident to this day, yet the Township states that all they could do to slow traffic down is install a flashing light. It has increased the size of the stop signs in the area, posted signs warning drivers of the impending two-way stop and even put up reflective tape to alert drivers.

This corner is a mere two blocks from our school and, according to statistics, a high accident intersection. Ask the numerous drivers who each winter slide into each other or off the roadway what the true statistics are. Ask the local residents about the exact number of incidents that occur.

Local residents have often been without power as a direct result of one of these accidents. Some people don’t report their mishaps to any insurance company for fear of increased insurance rates or other means of taking more money from their pockets.

Why do people, in this day and age, have to scream louder to make their situation heard and to be the squeaky wheel to get someone’s attention, so some common sense work can be done? The Township has said it does not have the money to fill in the ditches that are adjacent to our school.

It also said we should expand our parking lot further. We have already done this over four years ago at the district’s expense and at the expense of the children losing further green playing space.  Parents have to hold on to their children tightly, as we have no sidewalks to get to school on.

The Township states it has conducted random traffic studies of traffic flow patterns in our area, but when — during the summer months when none of our normal school commuters are present?  This scenario plays out daily for us.

Like R.E. Mountain parents, we have asked for traffic calming devices like speed bumps for our area to no avail. The Township did its part, it sent out a survey to the families living near our school to see if they were in favour of such a measure. They sent these out in July 2013.

No one from the Township cared to poll the parents of the students on what they thought of this measure or any other traffic calming measure for our school. Yet again we are left out.

Do I sound disheartened, or even a bit  jealous, because R.E. Mountain will get their sidewalks and most likely traffic calming measures? This school catchment has the population to support Township’s taxpaying needs.

We extend to ‘best of luck’ to Mountain parents in this uphill battle. Little brother in the country will continue its fight and hope that the Coghlan principal doesn’t have to make the 911 call anytime soon. We hope one of her little people or their family member will not be hurt in a local traffic mishap.

Maybe the Township will see the light and help us out with a little ditch filling. How much could a metal culvert and some crushed clean rock cost? Surely nowhere near the price of some temporary asphalt, or sidewalk concrete, or the life of one child.


T. Verigin,