Council okays $8,000 drop-off zone at Elgin Market school
By Liz Dadson
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Kincardine council has agreed to spend $8,000 on a sidewalk east of Elgin Market Public School for use as a student drop-off zone.
In committee-of-the-whole last night (Nov. 3), the issue was brought up as an addition to the agenda.
Public works manager Jim O'Rourke said there have been numerous safety issues along Princes Street, beside the school, when students are dropped off by their parents in the morning and picked up in the afternoon.
"These are young children - Junior Kindergarten to Grade 3," he said. "The principal of the school has requested the assistance of the municipality in the creation of a Drop-Off Zone on Princes Street for the students."
This means the construction of a curb-faced sidewalk designated as a loading zone and 10-minute stopping only.
O'Rourke said the cost for the project would be about $8,000 which could come from the operating budget for sidewalk repairs. He requested council approve the project, as well as transferring $8,000 to a capital account from the operating account.
He said the sidewalk contractor is in Kincardine and could complete this work within two weeks.
"It's a good solution in the interim," said councillor Mike Leggett. "However, the municipality needs to talk to the school board. We need a safe place for parents to drop off their children, but without the taxpayers paying the bill."
O'Rourke said the situation stems from an increased volume of students at the school due to French Immersion classes there.
"They have 16 buses stopping there in the morning and the afternoon," he said. "That's twice as many as last year."
He said cars can no longer be parked at the front (west side) of the school, nor can they be parked at the back (south side).
However, he said it's important to provide a safe drop-off zone for the students. In the long-term, the sidewalk could be extended along Princes Street, but it would be better on the other side (east side) of the street where the homes are located, he said.
"Why are we responsible for doing this?" asked councillor Kenneth Craig.
"The school board eliminated all the parking spaces out front, so now there are almost enough parking spots for the teachers, but no parking for parents," said Leggett. "So, every day, there are cars lined up along Princes Street to drop off the children."
He agreed with Craig that this is not a municipal responsibility, "but the school board doesn't care. Otherwise, this would have been dealt with years ago. The congestion along Princes Street is unbearable."
"It's not unusual for the municipality to install a sidewalk on municipal property," said O'Rourke.
"How safe is this sidewalk we're building on the wrong side of the street?" asked Craig.
"It's six feet wide," said O'Rourke. "The area suffers from drifting conditions in the winter, so it'll take a lot of winter maintenance to keep it clean."
He added that Princes Street is 8.5 metres wide, allowing for parking on one side. No parking will be allowed on the east side of the street during school hours.
"What is the liability for us in doing this?" asked Craig. "We're not decreasing the congestion along Princes Street, and we're building a sidewalk we'd have to maintain."
"We're doing what we can do keep these children safe," said O'Rourke. "The liability would be the same with any sidewalk and children and winter conditions."
"I agree with this in the interim," said Leggett, "but council should push the school board to correct this problem."
He requested an amendment to the motion, stating that the school board created this problem for the municipality so the school board should get the property fixed up properly and pay for it.
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Wednesday, November 03, 2010