Whitehorse Daily Star

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SELKIRK SCHOOL SEEKING HELP – Parents appeared before city council Monday evening to express their concern about the safety of young students who walk along Selkirk Street in the morning darkness. It’s an accident waiting to happen, council was told.

Student drop-off is dangerous, council told

The rear access to the student drop-off at the Selkirk Elementary School is an accident waiting to happen, city council heard from three parents Monday night.

By Chuck Tobin on December 3, 2019

The rear access to the student drop-off at the Selkirk Elementary School is an accident waiting to happen, city council heard from three parents Monday night.

The Selkirk Street access is poorly lit, with no sidewalks. There are no trails running beside the roadway.

Traffic congestion has grown substantially, and it now includes truck traffic associated with the construction of the new French-language high school.

There are kids walking the road without parental supervision, and it can be difficult to see them.

They can just disappear in the glare of oncoming traffic.

There are vehicles going in and coming out in the darkness before school. There is real risk of somebody getting hit by a vehicle, council was told.

“The department (Education) knows about this,” Melanie Davignon, a parent and representative of the Selkirk Elementary School council, told city council.

“I am here on behalf of the Selkirk school council because there are a few things we feel really must happen and we are looking for the city to help.”

There is talk of building a parking lot at the back of the school but that is a long way off even if it does get built eventually, she suggested.

Davignon said kids can walk along the side on the shoulder now because there is so little snow, but that could change.

Contributing to the traffic is the fact that Selkirk Elementary is an English-French school, drawing in students from across the city, she said.

“I do not believe Selkirk Street itself was made for that kind of traffic.”

Selkirk Elementary principal Peter Gubbe was in the public gallery to hear the presentations from Davignon and the two other parents.

Selkirk Street runs off Nisutlin Drive, more or less parallel to the Yukon River.

The Whitehorse Fish Hatchery is down there, as is the Gadzoosdas Student Residence, along with a hockey rink and the soccer field at the back of the school.

A small turnaround has been installed to accommodate parents dropping off their children.

Riverdale resident Ian Parker accompanies his kids to school, whether walking or on a bike.

There are dark areas these days along the street, he told council. It’s difficult to even see kids getting out of vehicles.

Parker said he’s fortunate he’s able to accompany his children and afford lights and reflective gear for them. Not everybody is as fortunate, he said.

Parker said he sees small kids a alone along Selkirk Street in the darkness. It’s a recipe for trouble, he told council.

Asked by Coun. Steve Roddick if he sees the matter as an equity issue, or an issue affecting some more than others.

“I absolutely do,” Parker responded, suggesting those most affected are the kids who are not accompanied and do not have the reflective clothing for one reason or the other.

“The kids who stand to benefit the most are those kids who are most vulnerable.”

James Saunders told council Selkirk Street is not a road to be commuting on.

There are curves, and vehicles pull out toward the centre as they pass pedestrians walking on the side.

There are street lights, but the lighting is inadequate in his opinion, he told council.

“There are a number of children who walk that road without adults, and it’s amazing how they just disappear in the darkness,” he said. “Those small bodies just get lost into streams of traffic.”

Saunders said matters have become worse lately as some parents who are dropping off their kids have started to use an unmarked road running straight across the field from Christ the King Elementary School over to Selkirk Street.

Selkirk Street, he insisted, was not designed for the pedestrian and vehicle traffic it is accommodating.

Davignon noted there is no crosswalk at the intersection of Selkirk and Nisutlin.

She said if a parking lot does go in at the rear of the school, it could even make matters worse.

“We need help, please,” she told council. “We need help.”

Comments (9)

Up 3 Down 1

Salad on Dec 6, 2019 at 6:19 pm

@Ian Parker
Let’s do all the things that you wanna do.

Up 3 Down 6

Ian Parker on Dec 6, 2019 at 10:21 am

Tater, your comment re. using Nisutlin/Lewes instead is a fair one. The problem is that route would almost double the walking distance from where many families live. Selkirk St is a main route to Selkirk School and it seems reasonable to expect the City to make main routes to local schools safe (within reason, of course). We only let our kids use that route when we accompany them and we're wearing lights. Other families can't afford lights and/or the time to accompany their kids. That's why I consider it an "equity" issue. I respect that you see it differently. Happy to talk more about it, if you like (prefer we use real names, though). Cheers.

Up 11 Down 2

Atom on Dec 6, 2019 at 10:09 am

Snowflakes....the new term for parents and or adults who need to go public with their considerable concern for the thinking of others...because they need to control everything...or something....perhaps kids who walk to school in the dark will be more successful than the Snowflake prodigy.

Up 9 Down 3

Tater on Dec 5, 2019 at 1:55 am

Still do not get it. Why would responsible parents let their children walk in an area which they consider unsafe when safe areas are available?

Up 9 Down 7

Stunting drivers too on Dec 4, 2019 at 12:26 am

Not to mention the stunting drivers from FH. Do something to make this safer for kids!

Up 19 Down 10

Guncache on Dec 3, 2019 at 5:53 pm

Geez It's a wonder I'm still alive. We walked just over 1 mile to catch the bus. It didn't matter your age. This was in a country setting, gravel roads, no lights, no sidewalks, used common sense, something that seems to be disappearing with many people.

Up 5 Down 15

jc on Dec 3, 2019 at 5:51 pm

"Poorly lit". That could also spell possible sexual assaults in an area that is poorly lit. How about for now, put on some security in that area such as a live human guard and even security cameras.

Up 4 Down 14

Matthew on Dec 3, 2019 at 5:16 pm

I was at the meeting last night. It sure does sound like it needs to be addressed right away! Need to have kids feel safe during their walks to school, shouldn't even need to be discussed. Get it done CoW.

Up 18 Down 7

Tater on Dec 3, 2019 at 3:36 pm

Firstly, tell your kids to walk along Nisutlin and Lewes where there are crosswalks, lights and sidewalks if you are worried about Selkirk St.. Secondly, is it an "equity" issue? I don't even know if this deserves a comment... And thirdly, a parking lot, I thought we were fighting the dreaded climate change demon. Since elementary students cannot drive this must be for the staff. They can ride the school buses or take city transit and set a climate change example.

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