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Five years in the making, first gifted flashing amber light for Winnipeg school zones installed

First set of gifted flashing school zone lights installed in Winnipeg. Michael Draven / Global News

The first set of gifted solar-powered amber flashing lights has been installed down the street from Winnipeg Mennonite Elementary School in Westwood.

The conversation to donate and install lights across Winnipeg school zones started five years ago.

“This is the first set of school beacons going up,” Chuck Lewis, owner of Expert Electric said on Thursday. “So yay, after a five-year wait.”

Read more: Winnipeg decides to accept gifted flashing school zone lights four years later

Lewis said his offer was originally rejected back in 2017, but he kept asking, until he got the attention of councilor Kevin Klein (Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood) who put forward the motion in 2019 that would eventually work its way through city bureaucracy and result in approval in October 2020.

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Ten additional flashing lights will be installed throughout the city over the course of the year, Lewis said, noting the city has agreed to put them in the top traffic spots. His team will install two pairs of solar-powered lights for each school, and take care of maintenance for the following five years. Lewis says if he charged for the lights, it would cost between $6,000 and $7,000 per school zone.

“The city has agreed to put them up at the top ten traffic spots, and that way they can monitor it.”

Click to play video: 'Frustrated Winnipeg electrician installs flashing school zone lights himself' Frustrated Winnipeg electrician installs flashing school zone lights himself
Frustrated Winnipeg electrician installs flashing school zone lights himself – Feb 6, 2020

Lewis has also created a virtual road safety program for students – a booklet going to each kid to help educate them about traffic safety.

Read more: City of Winnipeg gives green light to school speed zone project

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“This hits a little closer to me than most,” Lewis said, describing his motivation for pushing the city to allow the lights in school zones.

“For me, I’ve seen the effects of when you don’t have safety in school zones, and that’s why this is important to me.”

“Years ago I was dropping my kid to school when another parent was dropping their kids off and their two little kids were running across the street. A guy came up the street [with] his window totally frosted over, just a little scrape in the middle. He hit both those kids.”

Lewis said the driver didn’t even know he had stuck the children until several parents ran after his car. One of the kids suffered a broken arm, the other a broken leg, and all who witnessed it were traumatized.

–With files from Will Reimer

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