by Julia Lovett-Squires Flamborough Review
Dean Younger, principal at St. Thomas the Apostle, stands at the intersection at Burke Street and Dundas Street East where a new crossing guard will be stationed the first day of school. – Julia Lovett-Squires/Torstar
The start of the new school year is set to bring with it someone new for the students of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Elementary School – a crossing guard.
After months of negotiations between school administration and the City of Hamilton, a crossing guard has been secured for the intersection at Burke Street and Dundas Street East.
“This is exciting news for us, we were just informed – finally – because it’s been a back-and-forth forever,” said principal Dean Younger. “Originally we were told, ‘No, not until they do a traffic assessment at that intersection.'”
Younger said he pushed back, telling the city it would take too long after being given the message that it wouldn’t be conducted until the students come back. “This is exciting news for us, we were just informed – finally – because it’s been a back-and-forth forever.” — Dean Younger
The principal said both Ward 15 Coun. Judi Partridge and Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board Wards 1, 2 and 15 trustee Mark Valvasori were on board and moved the project forward at the city level.
Partridge said discussions about a crossing guard began more than two years ago. She said while there wasn’t an urgent need at the time, it was an important consideration due to the number of houses being built in the area – in addition to future plans.
The official request was made in May, Younger said, adding that there were various bylaws and levels of bureaucracy that needed to be navigated through. However, he said, the safety of students, particularly along a busy roadway such as Dundas Street, meant expediency was paramount.
One of the other considerations the Catholic school board had in wanting a crossing guard was in keeping with their physical literacy practices. By having someone to watch over the students as they made their way to school, it would allow them the ability to choose alternative methods of travel such as waking, cycling or rolling to class.
“With that extra physical activity during the day, we’re actually increasing their health and wellness,” he said.
While one intersection is taken care of, the Mallard Trail and Dundas Street East intersection is also being eyed for an additional crossing guard. However, due to both construction in the area and a speed limit of 60 km/h, it isn’t currently eligible.
Valvasori said the Mallard Trail intersection is a “funny situation,” as the Highway Traffic Act sets the rules.
“Ironically, they won’t post a crossing guard unless the speed limit is … less than 60 kilometres an hour,” he said. “It’s too dangerous for a crossing guard, but yet the students are expected to cross, it doesn’t seem right.”
Until the Mallard Trail intersection can be re-examined once the construction is done, the students who live in the Spring Creek Drive area will be bused to school.
Partridge said while Dundas Street East is a busy road, upgrades will be made from First Street to Kearns Road next year – work she hopes will make it safer.
Given St. Thomas’s commitment as an eco-school, the ability to be versatile is an added bonus for everyone involved, Younger said.
“It’s better for the child and it’s better for our carbon footprint.”