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REPORTING · 24th December 2011
Walter McFarlane
There were a pair of Letters to Council on Monday, December 19th from concerned parents, Liliana and Gordon Barnard and Jenny Kreuzinger. The parents were concerned about the snow removal service at Nechako Elementary School and represented a number of angry parents.

The Barnard letter describes a snowy Monday Morning, on November the 21st. The snow had been piled up on one side of the parking lot leaving half the space for parents to park their cars.

“When our son got out of our vehicle, there was a truck stopped by the huge snow pile waiting for traffic to move in the drop off zone. Another parent in a truck then decided to speed between my vehicle and the stopped truck and just about ran my son over,” wrote Barnard.

Fortunately, their child saw the truck in time and pushed himself onto his parent’s vehicle. They took their concern to Mr. Mills and he was as upset as the parents were. At one time, he even worked to help direct the traffic.

The public works yard told the Barnard’s they were not supposed to use that parking lot for dropping off students and asked where they thought the snow should be going. The letter added the parents contacted the school trustee and he told them the parents were following the proper procedure and the District was aware of the Nechako Centre Drop off location.

The letter explains the problem did not end there. Sometimes, the parking lot is cleared, other times, it is not. Once, the snow clearing vehicles blocked the clear lane because the workers were on a coffee break.

“We felt like this was an insult to those parents who have cared enough to complain about the safety of our children,” wrote Bernard. “We are asking you as a newly elected Council to do what is right for the residents of Kitimat, revise the snow clearing policy back to the way it was. Make our School parking lots and sidewalks a priority like they were when we grew up in the community.”

Kreuzinger’s letter provided a list of dates on which the parking lot was not clear, starting from the 21st of November. On November 28th, the snow had been pushed to the side again and was removed in the afternoon. December 2nd was the day of the coffee break.

On December 13th, the snow had not been removed at all from one side of the parking lot. Some cars parked at Tony’s Corner Store while others parked at What’s In Store Thrift Store.

Kreuzinger also stated there was an inconsistent use of gravel on the roads and sidewalks leading up to the school. Her child has fallen on the icy sidewalks several times and she has bore witness to other children, as well as cars, slipping on them.

She suggested pushing the snow up to one side rather then blowing it onto a hill, as blowing the snow onto the hill is creating an obstacle.

Both the letters were dealt with at the same time at the Council meeting on December 19th. Councillor Mario Feldhoff made a motion to receive the letters for information and ask for comments from the engineering department.

“I believe that legitimate concerns were raised with this letter and the letter following,” said Feldhoff. “I would like to get some feedback from our public works yard on whether this could be made a priority or not.”

Councillor Rob Goffinet agreed because Council and District Staff toured the area with Nechako School Personal on the first of December.

Councillor Phil Germuth said this was brought up on November 21st. Waiting until the end of January for the report means they probably will not be able to do anything until the end of February. He wanted to expedite this so they could clear the snow before the snow is gone.

Administration explained there are staff on holidays right now. Municipal Manager Ron Poole suggested it will come up at the second meeting in January.

Feldhoff said this is a specific issue relating to incidents at Nechako School. He hoped it could be dealt with it quickly. Poole explained there should be changes already in place. He checked to make sure they could do something sooner rather then later.

Goffinet agreed, the first week of January will be a crucial time for safety. Councillor Corrine Scott said the letters were specific and Council did want to review the snow removal policy prior to this winter. This was brought up through out the year trying to get something in place before the snowfall. The report is on the broad picture, she looked forward to the report.

The motion was called and carried.