Elimination of bus route raises safety concerns among parents

NANAIMO – Parents of Mountain View Elementary School students are concerned about bus route reductions in the proposed budget.

Leah Johnston

Leah Johnston

Parents of Mountain View Elementary School students are concerned about potential bus route reductions in the proposed 2016-17 Nanaimo school district budget.

The preliminary budget calls for the elimination of six bus routes including Route 3, which services the school, located on East Wellington Road. The biggest concern for Mountain View’s parent advisory council is safety.

Emily Hopewell, council past-chairwoman, said there are no safe alternatives for students.

“We are not on a transit route, so they can’t have access to public transportation. That’s not an option for them and not only are there no sidewalks (near the school), there’s no shoulder along Jingle Pot Road. Most of our route has no shoulder … your option is walk on the road or walk in the ditch – that’s it,” said Hopewell.

In addition, she said lighting is bad, people have been known to speed in the area and there have been bear and cougar sightings in the past.

Leah Johnston, advisory council chairwoman, who resides three kilometres from the school, said her children are older and capable of walking to school, but agreed it comes down to safety.

“The problem is that there isn’t [a safe way] at this point, so I can’t foresee that the City of Nanaimo is going to find the money to install sidewalks and shoulder all the way to our school, so safety has to be one of the big considerations when they’re going forward,” said Johnston.

The school is mandated by the province to submit a balanced budget, but Steve Rae, school board chairman, said the concerns of parents aren’t going unheard.

“Safety is one of the No. 1 priorities for our district … so we’re taking into consideration all of the information that we’re gathering, as well as what the staff has gathered, as well as our financial position, and we’re trying to find a solution to this problem,” Rae said.

The parent advisory council is expected to make a presentation to trustees at a meeting Monday (May 2).

It’s anticipated that the budget will be adopted Wednesday (May 4), although the district does have until the end of June to submit its budget to the province.

Cuts to Routes 1, 5, 10, 25 and 26 were also recommended.

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