Ottawa crossing guard funding is a City responsibility--It's in the Highway Traffic Act

Ottawa crossing guard funding is a City responsibility--It's in the Highway Traffic Act
Posted on July 17, 2014 | Neil Thomson | Written on July 17, 2014
Comments
Letter type:
Unpublished

Publisher

Publisher:
Ottawa Citizen

The Highway Traffic Act makes it absolutely clear who is responsible for funding Crossing Guards in Ottawa (and everywhere in Ontario):

The Municipality.

To quote the Highway Traffic (section 176):
A school crossing guard means a person sixteen years of age or older who is directing the movement of persons across a highway and who is employed by a municipality or employed by a corporation under contract with a municipality to provide the services of a school crossing guard.

Yet the City is attempting to extract funding from local School Boards. School Board funding by the Province is extremely tightly controlled (“enveloped”) such that there are no general funds for School Boards to repurpose for Crossing Guards. They can only steal from specific budgets (e.g. education, sports, …), which ultimately directly impacts students.

The Provincial mandate for intensification has led the City to its current Official Plan policies which are leading to substantial traffic increases across the City. That additional crossing guards are required as a result of general growth, compounded by intensification, is an issue that the City should take up directly with the Province, not the School Boards.

The history of Crossing Guards in Ottawa is that prior to amalgamation, the City played on the ambiguity of whether the City or Region was responsible under this legislation, leaving Ottawa as the only major Ontario city without support for Crossing Guards. Up until amalgamation, the City of Ottawa Police funded Crossing Guards at 16 critical intersections, citing their concern for student safety and stepping up where the City and Region played politics.

Shortly after City/Region/Suburban amalgamation, the City of Ottawa appointed a Police, City and Public working group to create a City Policy on Crossing Guards, which led to the current program. I was Alex Munter’s (City Councillor for Kanata at that time) representative to that working group.

Many City or Ottawa ward Councillors fought this responsibility for a considerable time, finally relenting due to pressure by parents, school groups and associations across the newly amalgamated City of Ottawa.

Sporadically over the years, City Council has sought to deflect funding and/or responsibility to other groups during the annual budget process, requiring parents and school councils to have to remobilize and remind the City and current City Councillors of their legal obligations.

This does not paint City Council in a good light, particularly in an election year….

About The Author

Current President: Kanata Beaverbrook Community Association. Member of FCA. Part of Community Panel for the 2013 City of Ottawa Official Plan Review.

Comments

The whole thought process at City Hall is lacking common sense. Thank you for enlightening us on the history of this issue.

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