George Jay parents are asking for safety upgrades after speed continues to be an issue on Cook Street, a main traffic artery bordering the school. (Keri Coles/News staff)

Speeding cars and near-misses have George Jay parents calling for change

A car going 10 or 20 km/h over can mean difference between life and death if pedestrian struck

Citing speeding cars and near-misses, parents of George Jay Elementary School students are calling for changes to improve safety for young students as they go to and from school.

The school borders on Cook Street – one of Victoria’s main artery roads – and parents say commuters are not respecting the posted speed limits, jeopardizing the 400-plus students that attend the school.

“This is an elementary school with the most vulnerable children in our city,” said Angela Carmichael, co-president of the George Jay PAC. “There has already been one child hit, and many other incidents involving road safety. Why is the school not a priority?”

In 2015, the section of Cook Street that passes the school was lowered from a 40 km/h speed zone to a 30 km/h school zone.

Parents and staff remain concerned and continue to push for more safety improvements, saying speed continues to be a major problem.

The difference between a pedestrian getting hit by a car travelling at 30 km/h versus 50 km/h is significant. A pedestrian hit at 30 km/h has a 90 per cent chance of surviving, whereas a pedestrian hit at 50 km/h has an 80 per cent chance of being killed, according to RoadSafetyBC.

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“We’re quite frustrated. I’ve been in contact with the City since September about multiple issues with traffic in and around our school zone. All we’re asking of the City is not to be kept on a waitlist to have safety upgrades done,” Carmichael said.

The George Jay PAC will address the mayor and council at the Nov. 8 council meeting, and again at the budget meeting.

In response to the PAC’s concerns, the City of Victoria started an investigation and is currently collecting data about volume and activity at the crosswalk, sign placement, lighting, etc. to make sure everything engineering-wise is in order.

“The overall objective is to have drivers be more respectful and compliant with the laws,” said Brad Dellebuur, City of Victoria’s assistant director of transportation. “They want their kids to get to school safely. So do we.”

Dellebuur said they will be attending the next PAC meeting on Nov. 29 to hear more about the school’s concerns.

“We’ll see where the conversations go. If there are things that require capital investment we will send that to council,” said Dellebuur. “There will be some follow up meetings with PAC and school administration and then we’ll see if we can come to a consensus on what needs to be done.”

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