Keeping our Kids Safe and Active

I was very privileged to Chair the School Pedestrian Safety Working Group which came about as the result of the terrible accident that claimed the life of a young student from Mother Teresa elementary school earlier this school year.

This working group brought together expertise from the City of Kingston traffic department, all our local school boards, Kingston Police, the local public health unit, parent council representatives and transportation authorities as well as local experts such as the Kingston Coalition for Active Transportation. This committee was very energized and worked very hard to produce recommendations that we can begin to implement as soon as this September.

The five major recommendations include:

  1. A protocol for identifying school specific issues and ensuring that they are brought to the attention of school board and City staff and addressed promptly.
  2. School Street Programs – like the one currently operated at Winston Churchill School – would be expanded and made available to other school communities across the City. This effort would largely be coordinated by the school boards with assistance from KIngston Coalition for Active Transportation. This will require support from school councils and volunteers but will be a tremendous support for those school communities where it can be safely implemented and particularly where there are clusters of schools.
  3. Community safety zones at all schools by Fall 2023. This is a huge City-wide initiative that will involve safety related signage, speed reductions and parking restrictions around all schools. Designating community safety zones will also allow Council to explore the application of technology such as photo radar to enhance enforcement around school zones. The first community safety zones will go into effect in September around Mother Teresa and Lancaster schools and St. Paul and Lord Strathcona schools. All schools will have community safety zones in place by the end of 2023.
  4. Safety education programs will be developed by school boards, City staff, public health and Kingston police around safely travelling to schools for parents, students and the wider community of motorists. These programs will also emphasize the need for kids to use active transportation to get to school and reduce reliance on travelling by car – and the attendant problems that car congestion causes around schools.
  5. Kingston Police are committing to significantly increasing enforcement in the community safety zones around schools – including whatever new speed limits and parking restrictions are in place. Officer presence in community safety zones will become a visible and regular feature of preventative policing in Kingston.

I am very proud of the work that this committee was able to complete – the hard lifting is still ahead of us as we implement these recommendations, but our community will be a safer place for all of our kids as a result. If you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.