The issue of illegal parking around Prince Edward Collegiate Institute in Picton, Ont. has been a frustration for school bus drivers for years. They say it’s a safety issue for kids on board.
Now, the Ontario Provincial Police have stepped in with an awareness campaign, focused at parents dropping off their children.
“It has been a nightmare for drivers,” says school bus driver Kristie Istead.
Istead has been a school bus driver in Prince Edward County for the last six years and says since Prince Edward Collegiate Institute became locally known as a mega-school two years ago, traffic congestion has increased.
This situation, she says, is compounded by parents and other drivers parking illegally when dropping off or waiting to pick up their children.
Istead points to the large electronic sign in front of the school.
“Do not park in this area from a certain time to a certain time for reasons,” she said.
Those reasons, she explained, are for safety.
Twenty-eight large school buses go through the school’s circular driveway in a very short period of time.
“When we come to work, we have a specific time when we have to be here for our lineup,” says Istead, “so that way everybody can get into their designated spots.
“Because the kids count on the designated spots, so they know where to go.”
“We are reminding parents to follow the protocol outlined by the school and not park in those areas,” says Const. Aaron Miller with the Prince Edward County OPP, “allowing the school bus drivers to be able to do their job.”
But the problem persists, spilling onto the narrow side streets around the school.
The issue of illegal parking came to a head last Wednesday, when a passenger vehicle struck a school bus at the corner of Elm St. and Paul St.
There were seven children on board and fortunately, no one was injured.
That promoted the OPP to launch the awareness campaign, which now also involves bylaw officers.
“We have been in contact with the bylaw department from Prince Edward County and they have advised us they will be out enforcing the no parking signs,” says Miller.
A $35 fine.
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The school board has installed a kiss and ride, separate to the school bus parking area, but few parents seem to be using it.
“The school says that parents are welcome to park here for a short period of time and then proceed out through the exit,” says Miller, pointing to the kiss and ride area.
The awareness campaign continues and bylaw officers are expected to make surprise visits