Several parents showed up to the first school board meeting of the year to complain about traffic chaos at both Promontory elementary and Evans elementary, including Gabriella Spanner. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)

Jinkerson families raise walking concerns with school board

Steep hills, icy conditions, animals among lists of concerns for Chilliwack neighbourhood

Chaos.

That’s the common word parents on Promontory use to describe the morning commute.

They say their neighbourhoods have stretches of intersections without crosswalks, kids walking on roadways where necessary, and throngs of traffic at peak hours.

And it’s that hour before school starts, when everyone is getting kids to class or leaving the hill for work, that the poor planning of the neighbourhood is really evident, they say.

Gabriella Spanner was the first of several Promontory parents to speak up during a public participation portion of the last week’s school board meeting. She explained that her young son would have to walk an hour each way if she didn’t drive him or put him on a school bus. And since he can’t walk alone yet, an accompanying adult would have to spend up to three hours walking back and forth.

“That’s not even comprehensible,” she said. “The area is so unsafe lately, with all the new traffic.”

Not to mention all the other worries of sending a child off in the dark, such as wildlife common in the area, or potential predators.

She said the administration at the school has offered what is essentially useless advice, asking parents to find parking at the end of the day three or four streets away, telling the kids in the morning where to find them after school.

“How do I tell a five year old where I might be?” she asked.

Making matters worse this year, is the lack of parking lot space at the school as it undergoes construction. A team of volunteers, including Griffin Security members, have been at the school directing traffic. But the school is urging parents to avoid driving to the school if possible.

When Promontory elementary was built in 1994, the Jinkerson residential side of the hill didn’t even exist. The school was planned with a much smaller community in mind, as one parent pointed out at the meeting. But the hill hasn’t stopped growing yet, and there are only two main roads up and down.

Even school buses are reportedly having a hard time navigating the streets. Some parents who spoke on Tuesday noted that school buses were up to 20 minutes late for pickup multiple times the first week, caught in the congestion themselves.

It’s not uncommon to sit at an intersection for 10 to 15 minutes, they added.

Ultimately, the parents who spoke were asking that the walk limits be extended to include students from the Jinkerson area, and they encouraged staff to come out to the neighbourhood and walk the roads to see for themselves the dangers children are facing.

Peg Pede, who worked for 23 years for the school district as a secretary, also noted that for a child who sets out at 7 a.m. or sooner, it would be up to two hours before anyone would realize they hadn’t made it to school.

“Safety for the kids should be the first priority,” she said.


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

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