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Parents demand safer school zones in Montreal


Parents and municipal leaders are calling on the Quebec government to spare some money from the upcoming budget for school zone safety, as advocates warn of significant risks to children at several schools.

“We see, every day, dangerous situations for the children going on foot or on a bike, and we want to demonstrate so that the government helps us to have better security,” said Celine Odier, a parent and member of the Élan Primary School Safety Community.

She spoke to CTV News at the corner of Sherbrooke St. and de Lorimier Boulevard alongside dozens of other parents and children, chanting and waving signs with slogans including “pay attention to our children!” and “respect us, slow down, pay attention.”

It was one of several demonstrations held across Quebec Wednesday morning. Elsewhere in Montreal, organizer Jean-Francois Gagne raised concerns about his kids’ route to class across a major artery: Leger Boulevard.

“People are going at 60 or 70 kilometres (per hour),” said Gagne, founder of the Association pour la mobilité sécuritaire de Montréal-Nord. “My kids are crossing every day.”

Blocks away, in January, an 18-year-old driver lost control of their SUV while heading east on Leger Boulevard. The vehicle caught fire after crashing into a tree, and the teen driver died. Police are still investigating the circumstances of the incident, but speed may have been a contributing factor.

Protesters demand safer school zones during a demonstration in Montreal on Wednesday, March 15, 2023. (CTV News)

While that part of Leger does not run through a school zone, a limited study from the CAA found a high rate of speeding in one Montreal school zone.

CAA surveyors recorded speeds of motorists driving through a school zone surrounding École Saint-Arsènet in Montreal’s Petite-Patrie neighbourhood over two days in October.

The agency says 96 per cent of drivers exceeded the 30 km/h speed limit, with an average speed of 40 km/h.

Months after that study, seven-year-old Ukrainian refugee Mariia Legenkovska was struck and killed on her way to school in the Ville-Marie borough. Fleeing the Russian invasion in Ukraine, she had been in Montreal for just two months.

Her death drew demands for action from community members and advocates. The city installed plastic bollards at the intersection where she was struck in an effort to slow traffic going through.

It’s one of several traffic-calming measures available to make roads safer for pedestrians, advocates say. Other options include concrete barriers, wider sidewalks, tree-lined curbs, designated bike and bus lanes, and narrower streets.

All of those options come with installation costs — something the province could account for in its upcoming budget, which the CAQ is expected to on March 21.

“Cities need more money to change this paradigm of cars everywhere,” said Gagne.

Gagne says about 40 municipalities and major cities, including Montreal, have expressed support for the province to pitch in.

Patrick Lemieux, spokesperson for the Union of Quebec Municipalities, says the union hasn’t kept up a tally of all the councils which have signed on, but confirmed that dozens have.

In February, the union passed a motion recognizing that pedestrian safety is a “province-wide problem.”

Saint-Laurent Borough Mayor Alan DeSousa says the province can help in several ways, not just financially.

“Above and beyond what the city can do, there’s also a need for provincial involvement," he said during a Wednesday press conference.

"It affects the Highway Code, it affects a variety of different measures, and some of these measures can be done with money, but also legislative changes." Top Stories

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