City considers crossing an intersection off its guarded list

Stratford city officials have started walking down the path of eliminating a crossing guard from one of the intersections it currently oversees due to a lack of student foot traffic.

Crossing guard Karl Freeland holds up a stop sign at the intersection of Brunswick Street and Romeo Street South on Wednesday September 11, 2019 in Stratford, Ont. (Terry Bridge/Stratford Beacon Herald/)

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Stratford city officials have started walking down the path of eliminating a crossing guard from one of the intersections it currently oversees due to a lack of student foot traffic.

City staff are reviewing the 17 spots where guards are currently stationed and have recommended taking one away – Brunswick Street at Romeo Street South. That intersection was observed over a two-day period in late June and just a single child crossed there – and just one time – over that 48-hour span, according to a staff report. A single child crosses there once every other week, the report said.

Kathy Vassilakos, chairperson of the city’s subcommittee that oversees transportation and safety, questioned if that was accurate. Tatiana Dafoe, the city’s deputy clerk, said that’s been the case “on a consistent basis.”

Karl Freeland disagrees. The Stratford resident, who’s guarded that crossing for the last year and a half, said he helps more than one student get across safely, and on a daily basis.

“I get more than that,” he said while on duty Wednesday afternoon. “Half a dozen in the morning, another half a dozen in the afternoon.”

Despite the discrepancy, Freeland agrees it’s not very busy there.

“That’s all I have,” he said. “I have more adults that cross than kids.”

The number of children crossing, along with safe gaps and traffic congestion, are all factored in when the city considers no longer stationing a crossing guard at a certain spot.

Coun. Dave Gaffney pointed out the need for crossing guards in that area changed when Juliet and Immaculate Conception schools were closed.

“Once those two schools were eliminated the next school down Brunswick Street is Romeo, and Romeo now would be well outside of the circle,” he said.

Gaffney added he’s lived nearby for several years and saw the change in student foot traffic firsthand.

“It was always pretty sad to see that poor guy standing out there all morning and all afternoon and not a kid in sight, because any kid that lives on the east side of Romeo (Street), they get picked up by bus on Burritt Street to go to Romeo school,” he said.

“Or Anne Hathaway,” Vassilakos pointed out.

Staff suggested making the change effective Sept. 27 and moving the guard to another crossing. The subcommittee backed the recommendation and it will move on to the next stage at city hall.

It will cost about $1,500 to remove the signs and lights there, the report said. Staff are also reviewing the other 16 locations.

tbridge@postmedia.com

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