Parents launch petition to save their school crossing guard as the District of Saanich undertakes review

Parents launch petition to save their school crossing guard as the District of Saanich undertakes review
WatchParents of students at Tillicum Elementary in Saanich say they're horrified to hear the municipality may pull their paid crossing guard. April Lawrence reports.

Jaline Tanne has been helping kids cross the busy intersection at Burnside Road and Seaton Street for years.

“It is a very very busy and a very dangerous corner,” she said.

But it may soon come to an end. The District of Saanich has been reviewing the need for crossing guards at certain intersections, including this one at Burnside near Tillicum school, and one on Cedar Hill X Road near Braefoot Elementary.

“These are not intersections that are in calm neighbourhoods where children can blissfully cross the world with a Grade 5 student holding out a stop sign, these are places where we truly have conflict between vehicles, including two-wheeled vehicles, and pedestrians,” said Audrey Smith, head of the Greater Victoria Crossing Guard Association.

Tanne says about 50 children come through her crosswalk each school day and this week parents of those children are just hearing they may lose her.

“Of course I was horrified,” said Mandy Greyling Holmwood, who has two children at Tillicum Elementary.

They say because of the angle of the sun many cars don’t see the pedestrian controlled light on Burnside until it’s too late.

“I’ve seen cars blow through the light, I’ve seen cars almost blow through and stop suddenly in the middle of the intersection,” said Greyling Holmwood.

But they say Tanne is always there.

“Catching children and pulling them back before a car runs through a red light,” Tanne said.

The paid crossing guards cost about $7000 each for a full year but the District of Saanich says this isn’t about saving money.

A spokesperson says “we’re committing the same level of funding, but the locations of the crossing guards may change depending on the need.”

They say the intersections they’re reviewing are ones that have had recent infrastructure and safety improvements.

While staff hasn’t finished its final report, parents are already preparing to fight, launching an online petition.

Saanich isn’t the only municipality reviewing crossing guards. View Royal is looking at removing the two crossing guards it has at Shoreline Middle School while retaining its other three crossing guards at the local elementary schools.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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