Critics of proposed schools worry about student safety, parking

Concerns about student safety and parking at two proposed elementary schools dominated debate at Red Deer’s municipal planning commission meeting on Wednesday.

Concerns about student safety and parking at two proposed elementary schools dominated debate at Red Deer’s municipal planning commission meeting on Wednesday.

Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools and Red Deer Public Schools each plans to build a kindergarten to Grade 5 school in northeast Red Deer. The Catholic project is slated for the Clearview Ridge subdivision and will accommodate up to 500 students; the public school will be located in the Timberlands subdivision and have space for up to 600.

Both proposals received development approval from the commission, but not without strong objections from two members.

Larry Thomsen, a citizen representative on the commission, argued that the design of the student drop-off zones at both schools would create hazards because some youngsters will end up crossing a busy street to reach their school.

“I don’t think adequate provision has been made for safety of students,” he said of the Catholic school proposal. “I can’t support something where we deliberately put kids in harm’s way.”

Thomsen was even more strident in his opposition to the public school layout, which includes designated student drop-off zones on both sides of Timothy Drive, south of the school.

“We’ve got a horrendous situation with respect to student safety.

“We’ve got the situation where we’re forcing students to cross traffic.”

Thomsen said he was “amazed” the city’s Engineering Department hadn’t taken steps to address the issue.

City manager Craig Curtis defended the handling of the applications, stressing that student safety was of “paramount importance” to the municipal departments involved and to the school districts.

He pointed out that student drop-off zones were not even included in the plans for previous city schools, and suggested that the school districts had done a good job in planning these ones.

“I don’t think it’s fair to describe this as a horrendous situation. I think this is a practical solution.”

Councillor Buck Buchanan said he was also worried about student safety, and concerned about traffic congestion during busy drop-off and pick-up periods. He referred to negative feedback from residents near existing schools with traffic and parking problems.

“I think we are setting ourselves up for issues down the road.”

Engineering Services director Frank Colosimo said it wasn’t practical to insist on enough parking space to handle all the needs of brief peak periods. With respect to students crossing the street, he pointed out that most children that age will be accompanied by their parents.

It was also pointed out that the schools will have safety features like crossing guards and traffic awareness programs.

Mayor Morris Flewwelling said he felt everything was being done that could practically be done to safeguard students.

“A kid could be hit crossing any street at any time.”

The development applications for both schools first came before the commission on May 23. They were tabled so that the architect and school boards could produce more detailed drawings, and consider ways to address concerns about the student drop-off areas.

Both developments were approved by a vote of five to three on Wednesday, with Thomsen and Buchanan the dissenters.

The province announced funding for the schools last May. They are to be constructed and maintained as P3 (public-private partnership) projects.

The Catholic school, to be called Father Henri Vosin School, will be located at 60 Clearview Drive and measure 34,756 square feet. It will initially consist of 10 classrooms and two modular units, with as many as eight additional modulars possible for the future.

The public school, which will be situated at 300 Timothy Drive, will have 12 classrooms and eight modulars spread over 47,286 square feet, with the possibility of four additional modulars. The school will also house a new branch of the Red Deer Public Library.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19.  (File photo)
Alberta identifies 1,828 new COVID-19 cases on Friday

Central zone has 1,251 active cases

Higher sales of cannabis helped Canadian farmers come out in the green. (Black Press Media File)
Drumheller RCMP lay charge for unlawfully distributing cannabis

A joint forces investigation involving the AGLC investigation team partnered with Drumheller… Continue reading

Three weapons have been seized and four people are facing charges following a police operation in central Alberta. (Photo contributed by RCMP)
RCMP, Lacombe Police seize loaded guns, arrest four people

Four people have been arrested and multiple prohibited firearms are off the… Continue reading

The Salvation Army's 2020 Christmas Kettle Campaign includes a new $5 tap feature for pandemic-friendly donations. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Salvation Army officers safe, touchless options for Kettle donation this year

The Salvation Army in Red Deer needs help. Kettle donations are needed… Continue reading

The Central Alberta Humane Society is looking for volunteers. (Photo contributed)
Central Alberta Humane Society looking for volunteers

The Central Alberta Humane Society is in need of volunteers Dec. 11… Continue reading

Dan Cochrane, senior pastor at CrossRoads Church. Contributed photo
CrossRoads Church closes its doors for two weeks after staff member tests positive for COVID-19

CrossRoads Church made the decision to cancel in-house services for two weeks… Continue reading

Blank Unemployment Benefits form
Red Deer jobless rate down slightly in November

Red Deer’s unemployment rate dropped by half a per cent in November.… Continue reading

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia's deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting health during pandemic in B.C., survey shows

VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says a survey on… Continue reading

A woman pays her respects to victims of a mass shooting at a roadblock in Portapique, N.S. on Wednesday, April 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Three charged, including spouse, with supplying ammunition to N.S. mass shooter

HALIFAX — Three people, including the killer’s former spouse, have been charged… Continue reading

Downtown Iqaluit, Nunavut, is shown after 2 p.m. sunset on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Nunavut will look to get the Moderna vaccine once it is available in Canada. Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson says Moderna is preferred because the cold storage and shipping of the Pfizer vaccine is too difficult in the northern territory. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Emma Tranter
Moderna COVID vaccine best for Nunavut because of storage, shipping: top doctor

IQALUIT, Nunavut — Nunavut is looking to get the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine… Continue reading

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau affirms farmers’ right to demonstrate after India criticizes his remarks

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy… Continue reading

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada’s COVID-19 case count passes 400,000 mark

OTTAWA — Canada has now recorded more than 400,000 cases of COVID-19… Continue reading

Longtime central Alberta politician Judy Gordon has passed away. Photo courtesy of the City of Lacombe
Former Lacombe Mayor Judy Gordon passes away

Gordon also served as MLA for Lacombe-Stettler before retiring from politics in 2010

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro (left) and Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw pose for a photo after they received a flu shot earlier this year. Hinshaw has been encouraging Albertans to get a flu shot this season. As of Nov. 28, Central zone has already administered 122,314 doses of the flu vaccine, compared to 126,288 last season. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s flu vaccine distribution already closing in on last year’s totals

Central zone has administered 122,000 doses of influenza vaccine

Most Read