Kawartha Lakes mother wants school bus stop moved off Highway 35 in Pontypool

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Kawartha Lakes mother asks school board to move daughter’s bus stop off Highway 35
A family in the City of Kawartha Lakes is calling on the Trillium Lakelands District School Board to move their daughter's bus stop off Highway 35 in the village of Pontypool. While the board tells Global News it has done its best to fix the situation, the student's mother says they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Tricia Mason has the story… – Dec 14, 2023

A mother in the City of Kawartha Lakes wants the area’s school board to change her daughter’s bus stop along one of the busiest highways in the municipality.

Lauren Cadenhead says the safety of her four-year-old daughter is at risk after a bus stop was moved from in front of her home in the village of Pontypool to an intersection at Highway 35,which has a speed limit of 80 km/h.

“The day that we did go forward with that stop, one of my husband’s colleagues was driving by and said it was pure chaos,” she said. “There was traffic lined up significantly. My husband and I both experience it when we are trying to turn left (onto Sandy Hook Road). People will often try to pass you not realizing what you are doing.”

Cadenhead says the original bus stop was at the of her driveway of her home on Sandy Hook Road, a private, unpaved stretch of road just off of Highway 35.

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It’s known as an “unassumed road.” According to the City of Kawartha Lakes, an unassumed road does not meet the minimum standards that the municipality considers “acceptable for assumption.” The municipality “absolves itself of liability” in connection to an unassumed road.

The school bus used to stop in front of the Cadenhead’s home on Sandy Hook Road, a private road off of Highway 35. Lauren Cadenhead photo

The bus route is used by a number of students in the area.

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The Trillium Lakelands District School Board declined an interview with Global News. In a statement, the school board says the route’s school bus driver  expressed a concern with not having a “suitable, municipally maintained turnaround location for pick up and drop of the student.” (Cadenhead’s daughter).

“After the school bus operator investigated the area and confirmed the validity, an alternative pick up and drop off location was offered and accepted by the parent,” the board stated.

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The school board says the new location is 160 metres from the first location at Highway 35 and Sandy Hook Road.

But Cadenhead argues she didn’t agree to that change. She claims she learned of the new stop from the bus driver herself.

“They routed her (the bus driver) down an unassumed road,” she said. “So what she realized when she went to test the route, she wasn’t going to be able to follow the assigned path. And she discussed with me to move the stop to the highway. Obviously, that’s not ideal because we don’t live on 35.”

Cadenhead says after the first day of school, the bus driver recognized the risks on Hwy. 35 and was going to utilize a neighbouring property on Sandy Hook Road as a turnaround — a site used by buses in the past, claims Cadenhead.

However, the school board says the property owner filed a complaint. The school board says under its transportation policy, a school bus can not enter private property or travel a roadway where “there is deemed to be no suitable turnaround.”

Cadenhead says she has not been successful in getting school board members to resolve her concerns. In September she launched an online petition seeking a change.

The school board says it will continue to offer transportation services — but only at the Hwy. 35 stop.

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Cadenhead is now opting to driver her daughter to and from school. But she admits it’s not a longterm, sustainable solution.

“It’s just something I think the community really needs to be aware of in case you are put in this situation as well,” she said.

— with files from Tricia Mason/Global News Peterborough

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