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.”