OPINION: Sidewalks are a school district responsibility

Princeton has never really stepped away from the issue of sidewalks.

Specifically safety comes up now and again, especially concerning the lack of a sidewalk on Corina Avenue to John Allison Elementary School.

Cars go too fast on Corina, some parents say. The children walking are young – ages JK to Grade Three.

Likewise there are often complaints about students from Princeton Secondary School who take the opportunity of a walk to and from that institution to provide the community with free idiot lessons.

Kids push each other onto the Old Merritt Highway.

Teens play “chicken.”

That’s a bad hill even for the most careful pedestrian wearing high visibility clothing.

Prophets of doom predict with considerable relish that eventually some child is going to be hit by a car.

Sidewalks or no, the law of large averages suggests that is a true statement.

The sidewalk issue is one that deserves to be looked at again now that much of the community is absorbed in the great pool debate.

It doesn’t matter what the project is, or what level of government is proposing it.

As soon as you put a price tag on it there will be visionaries and natural leaders stepping forward to express their thoughtful views on better ways to spend the cash.

The feds compile a package for foreign aid?

Surely that money could be better spent on veterans.

A government invests in the arts?

Those dollars should be going to the homeless.

And so on.

Nobody spends tax dollars better than a person who has never served in government.

About two years ago School District 58 petitioned the Town of Princeton to build a sidewalk to make the walk to John Allison Elementary safer.

After town staff reviewed the request – and determined a sidewalk from Lapworth Street to the school would cost $227,000 – council sent back its regrets, along with a promise to prioritize this area for speeders with the RCMP.

Without question a sidewalk on Corina Avenue – to say nothing of one on the road to the high school – is a good idea.

It’s just puzzling that the issue was originally raised by the school district, and that there was an expectation it should be paid for from the municipal treasury.

The original puzzle, of course, is why the district ever built so many schools in the neighborhood of Middle of Nowhere.

Historic decisions yes and it’s too late to do anything about them now. But it is a head scratcher.

Central to the purpose of community schooling is that schools are…well…in and accessible from the community.

Yet all three of the regular schools in Princeton are situated as far away from the center of town as it is possible to get.

(In the case of the high school – which is so isolated it’s across the road from the airport – one can almost imagine it was a deliberate attempt to keep the inmates away from civilization.)

What would happen if the district decided to put a school in Coalmont? Would the town be asked to build a sidewalk to THAT?

When students live too far away from school to walk safely the school district pays for those children to be bused.

Transportation is the school district’s responsibility.

When the sidewalk comes up again – and it will, we are just getting out front – think about who really should be paying for it.


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