The Chilliwack Board of Education declined a $200,000 recommendation at its Nov. 27, 2019 meeting by a trustee to install cameras on all district buses to catch motorists who ignore stop signs and flashing lights on stopped buses. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress file)

Chilliwack trustees decide against installing cameras on all school buses

Those opposed point to $200,000 price tag; deterrent effect of existing cameras was addressed

A Chilliwack trustee’s bid to install cameras on all school buses in the district failed at Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Education.

Trustee Darrell Furgason put forth the recommendation based on the rationale that “students should be protected from ‘red-light runners’ when entering or leaving a school bus.”

More than one incident has been reported on social media lately of drivers ignoring the flashing red lights and stop signs of school buses.

In June, a Chilliwack family’s security camera caught a car speeding by a bus with its stop sign and flashing lights engaged.

Motorists who fail to stop for school bus flashing lights are subject to a fine of $368.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack MLA moved to action by disturbing traffic video

• READ MORE: Chilliwack trustees to consider installing cameras on all school buses

Of the 51 school buses in School District 33, just 13 have cameras on the front of the bus that record both inside and outside. A further 12 have cameras on the inside, and 26 have no cameras at all.

But Ferguson’s recommendation to request the installation of “the latest” cameras was defeated, with most trustees opposing the $200,000 price tag.

“I’m just concerned because it’s a small amount of money compared to our budget but we have to take it from somewhere else,” board chair Trustee Dan Coulter said. “Where are we going to take that from? I have no idea.”

Vice-chair Trustee Willow Reichelt agreed, suggesting that the cameras will not stop a child from being hit since it only records what happens rather than preventing it.

“I don’t think it would do much to ensure student safety and it’s a lot of money,” she said.

The deterrent effect of current and proposed cameras was the subject of some discussion on the topic.

Trustee Heather Maah’s suggested installing the cameras on all buses would be an “excellent deterrent” something echoed by secretary-treasurer Gerry Slykhuis.

“Educating people to know they are on the buses does almost as much as having them there,” Trustee David Swankey said.

Trustee Barry Neufeld agreed, suggesting that just having the discussion in public could go some way to act as a deterrent.

Slykhuis explained to the board that the cameras are being installed on all new buses.

Speaking against the recommendation, Coulter said the expense was just not in the district’s plan.

“We gave clear direction through the strategic plan to use our resources in the most effective way,” he said. “I’m not saying this isn’t really, really important but there are so many other issues with safety.”

In a vote, the board declined the recommendation to install them on all current buses with trustees Coulter, Reichelt and Swankey opposed, and trustees Furgason, Maahs and Neufeld in favour. (Trustee Jared Mumford was absent.)


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