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Traffic problems continue to plague Queensborough schools

Senior admin will speak with the city to see what solutions can be found
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After a flurry of discussion, New Westminster school trustees voted four to three to approve a motion to send a letter to the Ministry of Education urging the minister to hold byelections in Vancouver and North Okanagan-Shuswap.

Parents and students could soon see some relief from the traffic woes that plague the elementary and middle school in Queensborough.

Queen Elizabeth Elementary and Queensborough Middle schools are both located on Salter Street, between Howes and Campbell streets, and anyone who has ever been in the area at dropoff and pickup knows what a nightmare it can be.

Cars often line both sides of Salter and are usually blocking some of the road because of the deep ditches on the south side of the street, commuters zoom by and students dodge passing cars as the cross to enter the schools.

There are no crosswalks.

With more than 700 students attending the two schools, trustee Mary Lalji put forward a motion to have the school board strike a task force to find a solution to pedestrian safety concerns at the Queensborough schools.

“I felt that it’s a safety issue that needs prompt attention and there are many factors to consider,” Lalji said at Tuesday night’s school board meeting.

“I think that it will take all stakeholders collaborating to find a solution to keep our kids safe. I believe that this is the best practice so that everyone involved has a voice.”

Queen Elizabeth PAC chair Bernadette Gourlay echoed Lalji’s concerns.

Gourlay has three children at Queen Elizabeth and Queensborough Middle, including a kindergartener. She described the situation on Salter Street during dropoff and pickup as insanity.

“There’s fender-benders and things like that, but it’s miraculous to me that a child actually hasn’t gotten hurt or an adult even,” she said. “I’m seeing it every day, and as a PAC chair I’m getting it from all the parents.

“It has to change.”

But when it will change remains unanswered.

Superintendent Karim Hachlaf, who recently visited the Queensborough schools to experience it first-hand, agreed that this needs to be a priority.

“It’s clear this issue has been building up and getting worse,” Hachlaf said.

But any solution will require the support and assistance of the city, he added, especially if pedestrian crossings are needed.

While some trustees agreed there is an urgency to the situation in Queensborough when compared to traffic problems at other schools in the district, none, other than Lalji, felt that a task force was the best way to tackle to problem.

Instead, trustees agreed to have staff contact the City of New Westminster in writing about what solutions are available and recommendations on how to get these solutions in place.

“We want to use our influence and our partnership to see what we can do, to see what steps we can take,” Hachlaf added.