Recent Council items: “Downtown Renewal”, safer crossings on Ottawa and Paterson Streets, lowering Golden Line Road speed limits to consistency with the City of Ottawa and residents’ wishes and more. What are your views?
The safety of children on their way to school has been raised by many people in Tait McKenzie, Holy Name of Mary and Naismith schools neighbourhoods. Several people there have told me that traffic is more congested in front of the schools because some parents, whose children are within walking distance of the school, drive the kids to avoid an unsafe street crossing at Ottawa Street.
In some cities and towns, school routes are patrolled by the “school patrol,” older students who have been trained to help younger ones cross intersections safely. Their training is provided as a joint project by the province and the Canadian Automobile Association, in cooperation with schools. Paid or volunteer adult crossing guards are used on major streets. Parents are more willing to let their children use active transportation to school (walking or cycling or scooting) if there are crossing guards and school patrols.
You can read more about the Manitoba program here (search for “crossing guard” or “school patrol”):
Some people say that the municipal paid crossing guard program in Almonte was discontinued because it was thought too expensive. Some say no one wanted to do it. Some say the schools should look after it. There are suggestions that the high school students might do it for their volunteer experience. There are kindly retirees in Almonte who might volunteer, too. I think that we can all work together on this.
There are 40 school weeks. In Almonte, a crossing guard is most needed on busy Ottawa Street at Paterson, for elementary school children. To pay one crossing guard $15 per hour, for two hours a day, 5 days a week, for 40 weeks would cost $6,000. Two guards would cost $12,000. Additional insurance might be required. School patrols, who are older students who do not control traffic but rather ensure that children cross safely, could be stationed at less busy intersections on the routes. They are usually let out of school a bit early, given high-visibility vests and flags and work with a volunteer staff person or parent. People have suggested that high school students perform this function as part of their volunteer hours.
I have communicated with both School Trustees and Councillor Dalgity. We are arranging a meeting to discuss this in January. We need to have safer school routes.
While I was visiting the Mill Run neighbourhood, a number of people asked me about the status of two neighbourhood features. As a candidate, I was allowed to obtain information from the Municipality. Here are my questions and the responses I received:
New Road Question: Please provide a detailed update on the progress of the road and public works going in behind Honeybourne Street from Paterson.
Answer from Town Staff: “Menzie Street is being constructed by the developer of the subdivision and being cost shared with the Municipality. The works are well underway and expected to be completed by the end of October.”
New Park Question: Please provide a detailed update on the development of the 4-acre Park on one side of Horton at the end of Laroche Street.
Answer from Town Staff: “At this stage Council has approved the concept plan for the Mill Run park but no detailed designs have been completed. The goal in 2019 is to complete the detail design for the park as well as try and have some of the construction completed.”
Jan’s Comments: The “concept plan” was prepared quite a while ago. Many more people have moved into Mill Run since then, and their views must be considered on a refreshed “detail design” for their park. If you have thoughts on this, I would appreciate hearing from you.
I heard from about a dozen households that traffic control is still a concern. A four-way stop was suggested at the intersection of Sadler and Honeybourne and a three-way stop at Honeybourne and Maude. Several residents complained of noisy stunt driving, often at night, behind the businesses along Ottawa Street. A reduced speed limit of 40 km in residential sections and by schools was also requested.
Residents on the side of Ottawa Street from Mill Run down to to Martin Street want better and safer pedestrian crossings, especially for school children, who must cross Ottawa Street to get to one of the two elementary schools on Paterson. People reported that parents drove their children to school because they think that crossing Ottawa Street is unsafe, especially at the Sadler intersection. I have written a separate post about crossing guards and school patrols.
A few people talked about the pond in the park, how it may be used and if it might breed mosquitoes; they wondered if aerating it in some way might prevent that. There are issues with ponds: do they function as retention for run-off? Will they provide a degree of filtration for water destined eventually for the river (wetland); will weeds or algae be harvested, pests controlled etc. That should be something to be discussed at a public meeting on the park addressing the concerns.
Mill Run is a “Friendly Town” neighbourhood, with so many people who know each other. Thank you for your warm welcome!