- Sandra McKenzieDeputy Minister, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
Support LMST School Design that is Compatible with a Walkable Neighbourhood
We, the taxpaying public would like the opportunity to providing meaningful, collaborative input regarding the site design for the new Le Marchant-St. Thomas Elementary School (LMST).
Over 70% of children walk to LMST. It sits at the center of one of the most densely populated neighbourhoods in Canada (6287 people/ km2). Given these facts, six questions come to mind when thinking about the current school site plan:
- Why are they imposing a car-first design on one of Halifax's best examples of a viable family-oriented walkable neighbourhood? (which are too few in number.)
- Why was the neighbourhood and taxpaying public not consulted regarding the school's site design?
- Why is the provincial government planning to destroy a valued playground at the Annex and turn it into a parking lot?
- Why are they introducing a kiss-and-ride loop in front of the new school that will encourage cars to mix with the hundreds of small children arriving at school on foot?
- Why isn't the neighbourhood getting a school site design that welcomes pedestrians arriving by foot each day?
- Why is there no pedestrian-oriented site plan that provides adequate parking for teachers along the side and rear of the building where it belongs?
If you find these questions troublesome, then please join the Civility Project in asking that the provincial government create a win-win for them and Halifax by agreeing engage in meaningful public outreach and conduct public workshops that enable a broad range of stakeholders to hear the views of others and provide input to produce a site plan that is consistent with the surrounding neighbourhood.
- Deputy Minister, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
School Site Should be Compatible with Existing Neighborhood
Over 150 individuals signed a petition which accurately laid out facts regarding two separate sets of car-oriented site designs for Le Marchant-St. Thomas. Approximately 130 of the 150+ people who signed are from the community in which the new school will be built. Comments associated with this pedition appear further below.
As of April 20, 2017 it appears that HRSB and the provincial government may in fact, pursue introducing new car-oriented drop-off loop in front of what has historically been a "walking school".
It has been suggested that opposition to a drop-off loop, and front facing parking log (i.e., suburban construction) comes only from a few individuals. The comments below, combined with the full list of signatures directly contradicts such a claim.
Neither HRSB nor the Province has provided evidence that large numbers of parents supporting the loop exist.
Encouraging more parents to drive to school further endangers the shrinking majority of children who still walk to school. Increasing traffic counts during the start and end of each school day will be an unfortunate realty unless HRSB and the schools themselves get serious about pedestrian safety and follow the lead of Toronto and other jurisdictions elsewhere.
At the same time, pediatric health specialists have become increasingly concerned about problems children experience breathing in exhaust fumes. Increased traffic at LMST will lead to exacerbations of existing lung problems like asthma and allergies. Medical professionals have also linked automobile exhaust with cardiovascular disease and elevated mortality in affected neighborhoods. These concerns should be addressed by HRSB.
The open question is whether decision makers will disregard fact-base evidence and peer reviewed research that directly contradicts their claims that a drop-off loop is appropriate to introduce to a walking school.
Public policy wrt LMST should be based on fact based evidence in the context of providing children with a healthy environment. Encouraging yet more parents to grab their coffee mug, bundle their child up in a heated car seat and deliver them "safely" to the front door of LMST is an entising option for some - yet these decision come with significant costs. Please review the comments below to get a sense of what this community loses.
1. The province and HRSB claim only a handful of people oppose new car-oriented infrastructure in the form of a drop-off loop in an urban neighborhood. This claim should be supported by evidence. Here-to-date, there is no evidence to support such a claim. There is, however, solid evidence to suggest that a large number of people in the community oppose such infrastructure. (i.e. attached petition and signatures.)
2. HRSB and the province need to directly address the health concerns pertaining to the direct link between exhaust from vehicle emissions comprised of carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), hydrocarbons (HC), particulate matter (PM), hydroflourocarbons (HFC), and methane (CH4). Children breathe in this mixture when cars idle outside of schools.
3. HRSB and the province need to directly address research findings appearing in the Journal of Traffic Injury Prevention that contradict claims made by HRSB and the province that a drop-off loop increases child safety in urban school environments. Where is HRSB’s evidence or research to contradict the peer-reviewed research that has been provided to HRSB in March 2017?
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