New trail hailed as safer walk to school


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This article was published 13/07/2011 (4045 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A local parent says a new path in South­dale will make it safer for children walking to school.

Last month, the province committed $720,000 towards a new bike and pedestrian trail from Bishop Grandin Boulevard north of Shorehill Drive to Beaverhill Boulevard.

Wendy Lourenco, a Royalwood resident and mother-of-three, said the path is long overdue — especially since many Royalwood children attend Niakwa Place or École Guyot elementary schools and J.H. Bruns Collegiate. All three schools are located in Southdale.

Arielle Godbout Wendy Lourenco stands at the storm water ditch north of Shorehill Drive, which students walking to their Southdale schools will often build bridges over or jump.

“You can have busing to school through Grade 6, but after that you either pay for a spot on the bus, or you get a bus pass, or you have to find a way to get over to the schools,” explained Lourenco.
Some children — including her own — choose to walk to school, she said.

The safest walking route is to cross Bishop Grandin at Shorehill, walk east to Lakewood Boulevard, and then down Lakewood, according to Southdale MLA Erin Selby, whose constituency includes both neighbourhoods.

However, the route is much longer than cutting through the greenspace north of Shorehill, especially for Royalwood students who attend Niakwa or Guyot, she added.

Lourenco said children who take that shortcut will often walk directly north, which involves crossing a storm water ditch either by jumping it or using a makeshift bridge.

“That ditch gets full and overflowing every year,” she said. “It’s been OK at times and other kids they fall in, they get wet.”

An even more dangerous situation is some children will head east and walk along the train tracks, Lourenco said.

“It’s a tough situation, because it’s close to where they need to get to, but they’re not allowed to be walking on the tracks — but that’s the clearest spot a lot of times,” she said.

While there is a bus route connecting the two neighbourhoods, Lourenco said there’s no reason why her kids should not be able to safely walk to school.

“(Walking) is kind of a healthier way, it’s a fun way. You kind of get a little time with your friends before school, and then after school too.”

Selby said a large portion of the cost for the trail project will be the installation of a bridge over the storm water ditch.

She added the path — which she hopes will be completed by the fall — is much-needed in the neighbourhood, especially as all levels of government are encouraging kids to be active.

“If we’re going to ask kids to walk to school, we certainly understand that they’re not going to go out of their way to go all the way to Lakewood,” Selby said.

“This is a safe choice for both the kids who are walking to school, and any families in the area who are interested in connecting to the active transportation routes.”

Lourenco, who spent seven years advocating for the trail, said one of her children is already at college, and she likes to joke with her two younger kids.

“I said ‘Hopefully you’ll be able to access this before you’re all out of school’,” she laughed, before adding, “It’s been really nice to be part of a positive project.”

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