Request for Community Assistance and Resources for Parents Regarding Active Transportation

 

In late April 2017, Deputy Minister Sandra McKenzie (Education and Early Childhood Education) and HRSB made a decision to approve an LMST site plan that features a drop-off loop in front of the school. In response, I have delivered an open letter to Ms. McKenzie that calls attention to the fact that the approved loop fails to abide by the health and safety guidelines specified by the Canadian Institute of Transportation Engineers and other professional and non-governmental organizations.

Currently, the Ecology Action Center and their partners in the field of health promotion at Dalhousie University and the IWK are having discussions regarding how to proceed appropriate to call attention to problems created by the loop.

Although the plans for the new school (which include the loop) have already gone out to tender, there is ample time for the province and HRSB to reverse its decision. All that need happened is for the province to issue a contract modification removing the loop from the site plan. This action would be a cost neutral if not a less expensive approach relative to building the loop and would have no impact on school construction. 

Previously, I delivered a petition supported by 150+ people in the LMST community opposing a site plan that was incompatible with the existing neighborhood. Although it got the community a public meeting, it did not get rid of the car-oriented loop.   

Sample Letter to Ms. McKenzie / Mr. LeRoux

At this point, I am asking for your help in the form of writing a brief letter to Deputy Minister. McKenzie and Board Superintendent Elwin LeRoux, asking them to reconsider their decision.   

Relevant email addresses are:

  • Sandra.McKenzie@novascotia.ca
  • eleroux@hrsb.ca

In the interest of making this as painless as possible, I’ve drafted a note that you could use as a starting point. Below the sample note are resources from the Canadian Institute of Transportation Engineers and other resources that you can delve into (if so inclined :)) for additional supporting information. 

Dear Ms. McKenzie / Mr. Leroux –

I would like to express my concern regarding plans for introducing a drop-off loop at LMST. Currently, approximately 260 of 400 students walk to school.  Rather than building a loop which will only encourage more traffic in the years to come, it would be preferable if HRSB could partner with advocates of active transportation in Halifax to focus reducing the number of children who are driven to and from school each day.  Clearly some pecentage of students will always need to be drive, but school districts elsewhere that have embraced active transportation have been successful in improving health and safety outcomes as they relate to our children.

Regards,
LMST Parent / Community Member

Thanks in advance for any support you are willing to provide.   

Resources for parents / community members regarding the LMST drop-off loop:

Following are resources for parents and community members relating to appropriate site design, health and safety.  

  1. The Canadian Institute of Transportation Engineers have a publication titled "Promoting Sustainable Transportation Through Site Design" which provides a whole host of reasons why introducing a drop-off loop in front LMST undermines health and safety.
  2. The Summary Report from the Nova Scotia Pedestrian Safety Symposium speaks to improving pedestrian safety through pedestrian-friendly-design. It is highly ironic (and arguably disturbing)  that one of the partners in this symposium - the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal - actually were at the center of drafting the LMST site plan with the loop (and other incarnations of the plan that would have greatly diminished the pedestrian-oriented nature of the community.
  3. The Nova Scotia Safety Symposium drew fundamental ideas from a international movement called "Vision Zero" as well as US-based organization called Safe Routes to School.   A joint publication from Vision Zero Network and Safe Routes to School has this to say about the safety of our children: "A big part of the conversation is acknowledging that safety should be the number one priority at this point and that convenience is not the be-all and end-all. Traffic congestion and flow of traffic is not the number one priority for us anymore."   
  4. The publication called Liability from Active School Travel prepared by Municipal Risk Services speaks to reducing vehicle congestion through Active School Travel which in term leads to reduced liability exposure for a school board. Ironically, HRSB has increased their liability significantly by insisting on a drop-off loop that creates a collision zone between children and vehicles directly in front of the school and not pursuing and Active School Travel Plan for LMST.
  5. Active and Safe Routes to School is a national movement here in Canada dedicated to children's "mobility, health, and happiness.".  Many communities in Ontario have formally embraced active transportation in a way that we would do well to replicate here in Nova Scotia. 
  6. The Civility Project article titled, Proposal to Introduce Drop-Off Loop at Le Marchant a Big Mistake, contains links to newspaper articles that feature a few school officials regretting or resisting the introduction of more car-oriented infrastructure in the form of parking loops and drop-off loops.  On quote reads, “Educating parents is the only way we can change this,” McMillan said. “The mix of kids, cars and buses is an ongoing problem and I don’t know another answer.”  In other words, there is no infrastructure solution to traffic congestion.