An effort to recruit a crossing guard to staff Southview Public School’s high traffic intersection will soon be underway.
At the Oct. 13 council meeting Greater Napanee councillor Terry Richardson put forward a successful motion to hire a crossing guard for the junction of James Street and County Road 8, located near the school.
The council meeting was held at Selby Community Hall, the first in-person meeting held by council since February due to COVID-19 safety protocols.
The crossing, which currently features an unmanned crossover, has become a concern for parents since classes resumed in September. With more parents opting to drive their kids to school to reduce possible COVID-19 contamination on a bus, more traffic is coming in and out of the area.
“It becomes a very complicated area where you got buses coming in and you’ve got probably at least 75 per cent more cars coming in that are southbound and want to turn into Golf Course Lane to be able to go into the parking lot which the (Limestone District School) Board has set up nicely,” said Greater Napanee Mayor Marg Isbester. “Then you’ve got people trying to cross and you’ve got golfers trying to go in and the world is in a pandemic state and everybody’s got too much on their minds.”
The crossing is at the top of a hill and is not easily visible to traffic heading southbound.
Isbester says the town has worked with the Limestone District School Board as well as the County of Lennox and Addington-County Road 8 is a county owned road-to come up with a solution.
While the town voted to hire a crossing guard for the area, that’s only the first step. Actually finding a qualified candidate may not be as simple as it may seem. Anyone who does take on the role must be fully trained and vetted.
“We’re short one crossing guard already in town and we have been advertising for two months and have had little or no response to it,” said Isbester. “It’s a good job, it pays well, but it’s got kind of weird hours and a lot of responsibility and you have to go through a criminal check and everything because you’re dealing with underage kids and you have to go through a lot of safety training.”
In the meantime members of council have volunteered to hand out information to motorists driving by the school over the next few days to remind them of the rules around a crossover.
Isbester said a crossing guard might just be a ‘Band-Aid’ solution for this year. A long-term fix may require adding more sidewalks and moving the crossing to a more visible location.
“It needs to be re-jigged,” Isbester said of the crossing. “I don’t want to hear the argument that the school shouldn’t be there. It’s there, we can’t go backwards, got to go frontwards.”
-With the town’s five-year contract with the Ontario Provincial Police set to expire at the end of the year, council heard from the OPP’s Kenneth Kee via speakerphone regarding this year’s bill.
Currently the town is looking at a $3.8 million bill from the OPP for their services in 2020. The cost has increased every year over the last five years, starting at $3.2 million in 2015.
The town is currently contesting the cost, arguing that it has been overcharged due to having to pay for policing costs associated with Quinte Detention Centre, among other charges they feel shouldn’t be downloaded onto the municipality.
Further discussion is expected to take place with the OPP and Ministry of Finance over the coming weeks.
“We just need to go out at from every angle,” said Isbester.
The current contact will expire at the end of December.
-Council’s first attempt at meeting in person wasn’t without its hiccups. The meeting was intended to be streamed live on the town’s YouTube channel but technical difficulties interrupted the stream. The meeting is now available on the town’s channel.