Editorial – Just get it done

Nearly 22 years ago, five-year old Adam Ranger died after being fatally struck while crossing the road. Ranger exited his school bus on February 14, 2000 and was crossing the highway when he was struck by a driver who ignored the flashing lights of the bus. The death of a child is every parent’s worst nightmare – one shared by every bus driver. For over 20 years, the Ranger family’s “Let’s Remember Adam” campaign has advocated for stronger safety measures – including stop-arm cameras – to try to prevent more tragedies.

The Ontario government passed legislation in 2020 to allow stop-arm cameras on buses, which are essentially a moving red-light camera. Municipalities are required to pass a bylaw to mandate bus companies install the system, and allow tickets to be issued under the Provincial Offences Act. Locally, SDG Counties is responsible for POA bylaws. Few municipalities in Ontario have moved beyond stop-arm camera pilot projects with the exception of Mattawa, Ranger’s hometown.

In December 2021, Upper Canada District School Board trustee William MacPherson put through a motion at the board reminding municipalities of the legislation and calls to make stop-arm cameras mandatory. Driving offences are not usually the purview of school board trustees, but the safety of students getting to and from school intersects on many levels of government.

MacPherson said when presenting the UCDSB motion that while the province passed legislation, it passed the buck by requiring local governments to pass bylaws to implement cameras. The Leader agrees. Of Ontario’s 444 municipalities, 203 single and upper-tier governments have to update their POA bylaws to enact this safety measure province-wide. That is a lot of bucks passed. The province passed the legislation, and it should have gone one step further by mandating this at the provincial level.

As municipalities must do the heavy-lifting for the province yet again, SDG Counties and the City of Cornwall should each pass bylaws to update the POA, making stop-arm cameras mandatory on all school buses. Likewise, those governments should also challenge the province to assist in paying for these measures.

Targeted enforcement of stop-arm bandits is shown to improve safety. First-time offenders face fines of $400-$2,000 and six demerit points – fewer than 10 per cent re-offend. Statistics also show that the knowledge of stop-arm cameras and increased enforcement also drive the number of incidents down.

SDG Counties has education as one of its key pillars for this term of council. Adding more safety measures for getting students to-and-from school safely also intersects with this. UCDSB chair John McAllister said he didn’t care whose jurisdiction it was, “just get it done.” With that we also agree.

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