View Royal will give $31,000 to a new non-profit society for crossing guards.
Mayor David Screech said the Town approved the funding in March, but because Beacon Community Services (the former crossing guard non-profit) announced they no longer had the capacity to provide the service, the money was in the budget awaiting an application.
The Greater Victoria Crossing Guard Association (GVCGA) was created by Audrey Smith, who serves as the president and is also chair of the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils.
Smith took on the role because child safety is important to her and the service creates a sense of community.
“They really do their very best connecting, as kids come and leave school, they keep them safe,” she said. “We have passionate crossing guards in View Royal.”
The money will help pay five crossing guards, one co-ordinator and one administration person. Each crossing guard is paid minimum wage which works out to $5,500 per year. Minimum wage has increased three times, twice last year and again this past June, which wasn’t accounted for in Beacon’s cost, Smith said, meaning they likely received other funding to top them up. The GVCGA also has to contribute to WCB, CPP, EI for its employees and pay holiday and stat holiday pay.
The number of crossing guards per municipality is determined by school PACs that do a “count” in which they count the number of cars at times students use the crosswalks, count students crossing and assess hazards like the landscape of the road.
Smith said GVCGA determined the cost for each municipality based on a formula that Beacon Community Services used. She has been navigating her way through applying for grants, but it has been difficult because as a new organization, GVCGA doesn’t have financial statements to provide.
Last year in View Royal crossing guard fees were less than $20,000.
Smith understands municipalities’ concerns about the cost and is hoping to find a sustainable, viable and predictable way to source money each year. She said without crossing guards to ensure pedestrian safety, parents would possibly drive their children to school, which contradicts the goal in Greater Victoria to keep fewer cars on the road.
The funding is different for each municipality’s crossing guards, something that Smith said ideally should be streamlined and co-ordinated through one entity.
Screech said when he started in office, crossing guards were paid through corporate sponsorship.
GVCGA is going to facilitate the crossing guard program for two years and based on results will decide to continue or discontinue it. Screech said View Royal is prepared to support the service for the next two years and $12,400 is already set aside for September to December and the remaining $18,600 for January to June will be in View Royal’s budget process for next year.