Calming traffic in Massey Victory Heights

Manon Boyle, a crossing guard at F.W. Howay Elementary School, has been helping a stream of kids, parents, strollers and dogs get across the street on their way to and from school for the past 11 years.

Boyle loves her job at the corner of Cumberland Street and Rickman Place, and the kids seem to love her, too, calling her "M" and always offering a friendly greeting to her and her little cockapoo, Daisy, who patiently waits while Boyle does her job.

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She says she's gotten to know the Massey Victory Heights neighbourhood "to a tee" and knows the residents' schedules like clockwork. Every morning, one elderly gentleman takes a daily walk at the same time, and she knows when some drivers are late for work as she sees them drive the same route every day.

"If people are late, I just look at my watch, and they go, 'I know, I'm late,'" she says, laughing.

From her perspective, Boyle says not much has changed in the neighbourhood since she started at her post as crossing guard - except for the traffic. Boyle said she's seen a "huge" increase in traffic in the last decade on Cumberland Street, and she still sees people talking on their cellphones.

"Most of the speeders are women," she says. "They're supermoms getting from A to B."

Jason Lesage, president of the Massey Victory Heights Residents' Association, said "rat runners" are only a mild concern in the quieter streets of the neighbourhood, and, even then, they're not as much a concern as in other areas of New Westminster. "I give credit to the city of New Westminster," he said. "They've done a good job in implementing traffic-calming procedures."

Jim Lowrie, director of engineering for the city of New Westminster, confirmed the city established several traffic-calming elements in the late 1990s, including blocking off streets and restricting left turns from arterial routes, and he noted that within the last five years, the city has taken steps to improve pedestrian crosswalks on Eighth and Tenth avenues.

Today, the city is considering further traffic restrictions in the area, such as banning commercial trucks from using Eighth Avenue.

"It's something that we're very much aware of and on the livability of the neighbourhood," he said.

For Boyle, she says she'll continue in her position as crossing guard for as long as she can because it's important to the people who have come to be like family to her.

"I love all the people around there," she says. "I love all my parents, I love all my kids. I can't wait to see how much they've grown over the summer and make a big deal about it. I give them all goody bags at the end of the year. They're very kind, and they're my peeps."

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