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Parents and community members call for stronger school safety measures

Council will reconvene on Wednesday evening on a number of issues, including enhancing safety measures around elementary schools.

After a tragic accident just over two weeks ago in front of Mother Teresa Catholic Elementary School, the need for stronger safety measures like an added crossing guard is pressing according to Tuesday’s delegations.

A number of parents and community members shared pointed and impassioned opinions on the issue, after 5th grade student Xochitl Azul Rivera was struck by a truck and succumbed to her injuries on January 31.

Karla Cordova, a parent at Mother Teresa and friend to the Rivera family, said Xochitl was the “kindest and most loving girl”, and said her loss is irreparable.

She said the accident has left her feeling that her children can’t safely walk around the neighbourhood.

“Before January 31st I used to feel safe having my children walk around the neighbourhood on their own, but not anymore,” Cordova said.

“And much less outside the school Mother Teresa.”

Parents in the school community, which is located on Lancaster Drive, made clear that the nearby streets are a danger for children.

Paul Brioux, speaking as Chair of the Mother Teresa Catholic School Parent Council, told councillors that change is not only needed, but overdue.

“Vehicle/pedestrian interaction which takes place daily at drop off and pickup times at Mother Teresa and Lancaster public school is fraught with distraction, congestion and frustration,” said Brioux, adding that it has been this way since his first child attended school twelve years ago.

“Given this historical context, Xochitl’s death was shocking to everybody in the community, but it was hardly surprising. Without impactful change a similar circumstance will almost certainly happen again.”

Scott Snow, another parent in the community, touched on the city’s difficulty attracting applicants to crossing guard positions, and proposed splitting the position into morning and evening coverage to make it more accessible.

A pilot project by the Kingston Coalition for Active Transportation at Winston Churchill Public School, which sees the street closed down during pickup and drop off times, was also discussed for Lancaster Drive.

Council will reopen the discussion of the proposed motion at Wednesday continuation of the meeting.

Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporterhttp://ygknews.ca
Born and raised in Whitby, Ontario, Owen has been living in Kingston for about three years after starting the band Willy Nilly. Prior to that he worked at CKLB radio in Yellowknife and completed studies in Niagara College's Broadcasting program.

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