St. Clair hopes to attract more crossing guard, find permanent fix to dangerous school crossings

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Alex Kurial/Local Journalism Initiative

St. Clair has increased the pay of crossing guards to attract more help as there are mounting calls to do something to protect kids on their way to school. 
The concerns revolve around the Corunna neighborhood that contains the Sir John Moore and St. Joseph Catholic schools, as well as the nearby Colonel Cameron Public School. There are few crosswalks, the ones that are there can’t be seen, there is no crossing guard and vehicles speed through the area, say parents.
St. Clair Blvd near Sir John Moore stood out in particular. “It is our most problematic crossing that we currently get the most complaints on. Speeding complaints as well,” says Dave Neely, coordinator of operations. “Many safety issues have been identified at this location and finding a crossing guard to serve here has been problematic,” he says. Neely says it should council’s “highest priority.”
Crossings on Hill St. near Colonel Cameron – especially at the Queen St. and Colborne St. crossings – were a close second. 
The crossing issue was raised as soon as school began. Monique Desabrais-Marshall told them Sept. 8 parents in her area had started a carpool to St. Joseph’s. Parents didn’t want them walking the busy street and there were no extra bus seats.  
Desabrais-Marshall asked that additional crosswalks or more crossing guards be considered. Neely said at the time that filling the crossing guard role was a challenge. One month later the same problem persists. “We have a really hard time finding anybody that wants to do it,” Neely says. Public works staff had to step in to fill empty roles. 
But even when guards are present there is still risk. Kevin Ewart wrote council saying there are near misses near Col. Cameron school all the time. “Myself and everyone else in the community don’t want to see a tragic accident happen before something is done,” Ewart wrote. “I’m asking you as a parent and citizen of this community to stand up and make changes before it’s too late!”
Neely says one solution would be phasing out the five crossing guards and adding pedestrian crossovers with signs and flashing lights.
Not all of council was thrilled with this idea. “That red, yellow and green is the only thing that will protect a child,” says Mayor Steve Arnold.
He says it can be hard to see the flashing lights in certain locations, and that the painted lines can give a false sense of security. “I’m not comfortable with that level of protection for children,” Arnold says. 
Neely will look for other solutions and council has doubled the pay for crossing guards to entice people to fill the shifts.

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