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Meeting aims to identify school zone traffic issues

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The Fort Frances Traffic Safety/Pedestrian Safety Initiative will be gathering stakeholders and begin to make a concerted effort to address traffic safety concerns in local school zones at a meeting here tomorrow (Nov. 17).

OPP Community Services Officer Cst. Anne McCoy said the meeting, slated for 7:30 p.m. at Robert Moore School, will be important as it marks an opportunity for stakeholders, including parent council members, school administration, town officials, and committees focusing on safety and prevention, to work together.

“What is happening now [is] parents, school administration staff, and teachers will call the OPP or the Town of Fort Frances to report their concerns on an individual case by case basis,” noted Cst. McCoy.

“We’re trying to work collectively to problem identify and to problem solve,” she explained.

“But we need to work collectively, as stakeholders, to work together to find solutions that reflect and appreciate the various policies of various organizations while taking into consideration municipal and provincial roadway legislation and requirements,” she stressed.

“We’re hoping to have this first meeting to introduce all of the community partners, all of the stakeholders, all of the involved parties, and identify what their roles are so that if problems are identified, resources can be referred and those people can work together.”

Cst. McCoy said a good number of stakeholders have confirmed their attendance, notably Kelly Schmid (MTO Head Traffic Section) and Tom Marinis, co-ordinator of MTO Road Safety Programs, along with Town of Fort Frances transportation superintendent Milt Strachan, Merv Ahrens and Kayne Shaw of the Town of Fort Frances Traffic Safety Committee, Elaine Fischer of the Town of Fort Frances Active Transportation Committee/Northwestern Health Unit, and Peggy Loyie of Safe Communities Rainy River District.

She noted Marinis, for instance, deals with funding opportunities specific to traffic safety while Safe Communities Rainy River District is a non-profit organization that can act as a community resources in order to help with the administration of grant funding should a traffic safety project be taken on.

Through previous and continuous traffic safety initiatives, photographs depicting traffic congestion, the behaviour of vehicles in school zones, as well as the students, have been taken.

The pictures help community partners get a clearer understanding of what some of the issues are.

“I’m looking forward to working together with our community partners” said Cst. McCoy.

“And I think the only way to do it is to collectively come together, pool stakeholders and resources, identify the top three priority issues to start, solve those issues together, and move ahead.”

Anyone interested in participating in the initiative is asked to contact the parent council chairperson at their child’s school and indicate they’re interest in working with that particular parent council committee.

Should any other communities partners/stakeholders wish to attend, they can contact Cst. McCoy at anne.mccoy@ontario.ca

“We’re going to discuss how to identify the problems and understand the process that is required in order to make change,” Cst. McCoy said.

“Documentation and evaluation is an important part of the problem-solving process when policies and regulations are involved,” she stressed.

“We’re looking at the analytical side of it, so we may have to mobilize certain teams in order to support the working group to verify that a particular problem is happening consistently and requires change.

“When you’re working with municipal government, provincial government, and rules and regulations like bylaws, you have to be able to have a documentation and evidence to support the required change,” Cst. McCoy reiterated.

“That’s what I am hoping to get everyone working towards together, rather than in different silos.

“I am encouraged at the response of stakeholders,” she added.

In fact, Cst. McCoy said she’s already planning a second meeting in January.

“We’ll have to reassess the priorities in January as weather plays a huge role in concerns,” she noted.

“There might be some winter issues that surface, or we might need to re-prioritize.”

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