Some parents in Nova Scotia’s Musqudoboit Valley say the current busing plan in their community is putting their children’s safety at risk.
Sam McCormick, who lives along McMullin Road in Antrim, N.S., says her two children have to walk half a kilometre to and from the bus stop every day.
“On the way back it’s all up hill,” said McCormick. “It’s a rural area. We don’t have sidewalks, we don’t have lights. It’s hunting season, there’s animals around, there’s coyote sightings.
“My kids are scared to go to the bathroom without the light on, they’re not going to walk to a bus stop that far away in the dark.”
McCormick says the previous owners of the house she lives in used to have a bus stop right at the end of the driveway, but this year it changed.
She also says she has been told someone has to be at the stop when the bus arrives to pick the kids up.
“On the days when I don’t have a vehicle or I have childcare, I can’t ask someone to walk four houses down to pick them up,” she said.
“It’s just become really, really difficult.”
McCormick says she tried to call the Halifax Regional Centre for Education’s transportation every day, but isn’t getting anywhere with them.
Brittany Enders, who lives in the nearby community of Meaghers Grant, N.S., has found herself in a similar situation. She lives on John Grant Back Road and lives almost 800 metres from the bus stop her two children have to get to.
“It’s very dangerous for them to walk down a side road, especially when the snow comes,” said, Enders. “We’ll probably only have the middle of the road plowed, so they’ll have to walk down in car tracks to walk down to the bus.”
Roxanne Pace also lives on John Grant Back Road. Her issue isn’t necessarily with the long walk to the bus stop, it’s whether the bus will show up at all.
“There was one day it didn’t even show up. No notification, no emails, so it’s touch and go,” said Pace. “I don’t know one day if the bus is coming late, or it’s just not coming.”
All of the parents say there has been a breakdown in communication when it comes to getting their concerns addressed with the Halifax Regional Centre for Education.
“They haven’t been phoning any of us back,” said McCormick. “They’ve contacted the school directly, but they’ve not let any of the parents know, and they’ve not given me a reason as to why.”
“They need to listen to us and they need to come out and actually do a survey and look at the distance that they’re trying to make our kids walk,” said Enders.
Doug Hadley, spokesperson for the Halifax Regional Centre for Education, says they’re happy to entertain changes to bus stops, but their focus is currently on ensuring all the student eligible for busing are routed appropriately.
“We still have some students registering school, for example, so we have to put them on buses,” said Hadley.
“So our real focus is there, and we will get to looking at alternate stop requests.
Hadley also says there are several factors that go into changing a bus stop.
“We have to give consideration based solely on if it’s safe, if it fits within the requirements under legislation, and if we can accommodate we will,” said Hadley.
But McCormick says something needs to change to ensure both of her children’s safety.
“It’s a lack of communication all around where they just need to say, ‘Hey, we need more bus drivers, we need more stops, or we need to come out and do the route ourselves to figure out where the safest place to stop is.’”