Safety on dark highways stirred up three motions at the Dec. 13 Fraser-Cascade School District 78 (SD78) board meeting.
Three motions came out of the debate. SD78 clarified that the exact wording of the motions are as follows:
- THAT the Board of Education for School District No. 78 (Fraser-Cascade) purchase reflective anklets for distribution to all students in the district and write a letter to the Minister of Transportation & Infrastructure regarding signage that would warn traffic of pedestrians on our highway.
- THAT the Board of Education for School District No. 78 (Fraser-Cascade) write a letter to the Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Education, and ICBC requesting signage for the highways and that a campaign is required for nighttime safety awareness.
- THAT the Board of Education for School District No. 78 (Fraser-Cascade) submit a motion to BCSTA regarding a nighttime safety awareness campaign.
Board chair Linda Kerr brought the item onto the agenda because of the recent Highway 7 death whereby a semi hit Hope Secondary School student Darryl Peters, who police noted he was wearing black.
“I started thinking of dark highways everywhere and how to make kids safer,” said Kerr.
Kerr showed a reflective ankle strap, which is small enough to be kept in pockets. This would cost $1.60 per item if bought by the thousands.
She considered a vest, but decided that vests are not a good idea because students will not wear them.
Trustee John Koopman believed that pedestrians should be banned from walking near the weigh scales on Highway 7, where concrete barricades leave little room for pedestrians.
“I’m guessing there’s probably only two feet, two-and-a-half feet, from the concrete barricade,” said Koopman. “That’s still a very, very dangerous and precarious place to be walking when it’s dark.
“That one designated area — they should almost say no foot traffic, or bike traffic at night, because it’s not meant for them.”
Hendrickson disagreed with a ban “because they’ve been walking there for generations down at Chawathil.”
At that point, Hendrickson made a motion. Then, Ferguson said she would like to make a “friendly amendment” to the motion by blending her motion in.
Towards the end of the discussion, Ferguson’s motion did not get blended into one because Hendrickson made it obvious that “it’s not a friendly amendment,” because “that could delay this thing months.”
After Ferguson’s comments, trustee Ron Johnstone noted that he wanted to bring it to the BCSTA because “it is a province-wide issue.”
Hendrickson spoke against bringing this issue province-wide.
“Sure, I’m concerned about the kids up in Kimberly, but the issue that I suggested to get, and that we should be able to get, is the signage down here, and get the First Nations to back it,” said Hendrickson. “I’d like to do all North America, but I mean, I want to be realistic here.”
Other initiatives in the District include working with the RCMP who will host safety programs in schools relating to roads. SD78 is also partnering with Victim Services so that students can have toques with reflective material.