Student drop-off and pickup issues in the narrow streets around Dunsmuir Middle School are a concern, says one neighbourhood resident. (Courtesy Mark Maciver)

Student drop-off and pickup issues in the narrow streets around Dunsmuir Middle School are a concern, says one neighbourhood resident. (Courtesy Mark Maciver)

Traffic solutions sought for drop-off area near Colwood middle school

Safety of students at Dunsmuir Middle School a priority: SD62 superintendent

A meeting is in the works to address safety concerns during drop-off and pick-up times for students at Dunsmuir Middle School.

Colwood resident Mark Maciver said he has witnessed doors being opened into bike riders and children being let out of vehicles on the traffic side, among other concerns. He has contacted the West Shore RCMP, City of Colwood bylaw and Sooke School District with his concerns.

Drivers stopping traffic flow to let students out at the crosswalk in front of the school, and crosswalks at Summerhill and Wellsmith crescents at Benhomer Drive, exacerbates the problem, Maciver noted.

“Cars speeding, u-turning, letting kids out into traffic and running crosswalks are issues,” he said.

He personally had a close call two years ago, almost striking two children with his truck because other vehicles blocked his vision.

Colwood Mayor Rob Martin said bylaw staff are co-ordinating a meeting with SD62 and the RCMP to explore ways to optimize safety.

To help increase safety in this area, the city plans to construct sidewalks and bike lanes along Painter Road, which runs along the school property, he noted.

“When more students can walk or cycle, it reduces vehicle traffic and increases safety significantly,” Martin said. Sidewalk design work is substantially complete and construction is scheduled for 2021.

Scott Stinson, SD62 superintendent of schools, has heard concerns about traffic from school parents.

“The school continues to [remind] parents to obey all posted signage, including speed limits, and to be respectful to the neighbourhood,” he said. “We know parents want what’s best and safest for students.

The district continues to collaborate with West Shore RCMP and the city, which have jurisdiction on issues taking place off school property, Stinson said.

”As always, we encourage parents and students to find alternate ways of getting to and from school, such as walking in groups or riding bikes. At the end of the day, the safety of our students and staff is our number one priority and we’ll continue to work with stakeholders to come up with solutions.”

West Shore RCMP Const. Nancy Saggar confirmed they have received only two complaints about the situation at Dunsmuir since 2018, including one from the school’s vice-principal in September of this year about traffic congestion during drop-off and pick-up times.

“We are not seeing ongoing complaints to the RCMP regarding this issue,” she said.

“Our municipal traffic unit has conducted traffic enforcement, particularly with an emphasis on educating drivers about where they can and cannot stop, and the unit does conduct patrols and enforcement in hot spots like this one throughout the year.”

Road safety responsibility is shared between drivers, the school board who can advise parents of proper pickup and drop-off locations, and the city who can ensure proper signage is posted, as well as police and bylaw, Saggar said.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com