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North Delta elementary granted $12K for project to reduce traffic congestion

Hellings looking at ways to get people out of cars, reduce risk during pick-up and drop-off times
The entrance to North Delta’s Hellings Elementary on 86th Avenue has a single crosswalk and is the site of twice-daily traffic snarls as parents drop off and pick up their kids. The school plans to use an $11,980 Vision Zero grant from the province to explore ways to get people out of their cars and reduce traffic congestion, thereby increasing safety for pedestrians, cyclists and others. (James Smith/North Delta Reporter photo)

Hellings Elementary is getting nearly $12,000 from the province to explore ways to get people out of their cars and reduce traffic congestion around the school.

The North Delta school’s active transportation initiative is one of 53 projects across B.C. receiving Vision Zero grants aimed at improving road safety through projects including crosswalk infrastructure upgrades, traffic calming, speed limit reduction pilots, speed reader boards, improved lighting, and planning.

Hellings Elementary’s project is intended to promote active school travel planning and pay for low-cost infrastructure improvements to decrease traffic congestion around the school at drop-off and pick-up times, reducing the risk of injury.

According to the project overview, safety concerns at the beginning and end of the school day include speed violations, illegal U-turns, vehicles blocking crosswalks and driveways, drivers letting children in and out of their vehicles in unsafe locations, and students walking between cars in the travel lanes, contributing to “agitated human behaviours” that decrease safety and create higher risk of serious injuries.

The overview points to challenges caused by various “social determinants of health” — time, income, housing, work opportunities — that create hardships for some students and their families. It also notes that a significant proportion of the schools’ population is comprised of newcomers, refugees or new immigrants to Canada.

“The day-to-day operations of the school are heavily influenced by the socio-economic challenges that the families face. Despite these challenges, we continually work towards promoting safety, wellness and learning in our school,” the overview states.

“One of the ways we are working towards increasing safety is by addressing the traffic congestion that occurs at the beginning and end of our school day.”

It goes on to say that congestion and “dangerous human behaviors” have been a constant, leading the school and local residents to complain and report incidents to municipal bylaw officers.

“Given these circumstances, the goal of this project is to explore ways to decrease traffic congestion and eliminate risks at drop-off and pick-up time around the school and to shape the school community towards modal shift, and substitute driving behaviors with active travel to school,” the overview states.

“The school wants to provide practical, attractive and safe alternatives to driving so that, collectively, they can eliminate congestion and reduce exposure to the injury risks presented by motor vehicles.”

SEE ALSO: Crosswalk improvements coming to three ‘key’ Delta intersections

Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon said people in North Delta will benefit from safer roads thanks to Hellings’ $11,980 Vision Zero grant, which will help prevent serious injuries and deaths.

“We want to avoid near misses and close calls on our streets as Delta continues to grow and so we must update our safety measures, especially near schools,” Kahlon said in a press release. “That’s why our government is providing this grant money to prevent dangerous driving and keep our roads safer for students, staff and families.”

The Vision Zero grants, totalling more than $866,000 for 2024, are provided through the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, with additional funding top-ups provided by regional health authorities.

The funding is provided to local governments, Indigenous communities and non-government organizations such as school districts, parent advisory councils and advocacy groups to help them plan projects that make streets safer for vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists, roadside workers, etc.).

“The Vision Zero grants go a long way to prioritizing safety and well-being on our roads,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a press release. “By investing in innovative solutions and community-driven initiatives, we not only aim to prevent collisions but also cultivate a culture of responsibility and care. Together, let us strive toward a future where zero lives are lost due to preventable road collisions.”

Road-related injuries and deaths are a significant cause of health-care system usage and affect patient and health-system capacity, resulting in $312 million in direct health-care costs each year according to a government press release.

“Keeping people safe on our roadways starts with building transportation infrastructure that protects vulnerable road users,” Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said in a press release. “These grants will give communities the funds they need to break ground on projects that will make our roads safer and encourage more people to use active transportation options.”

SEE ALSO: Crime in Delta down through first quarter of 2024

SEE ALSO: 242 new homes built since Delta received housing target

James Smith

About the Author: James Smith

James Smith is the founding editor of the North Delta Reporter.
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