Protesters at the Murray Street and Reaume Avenue intersection in Wallaceburg are not going down without a fight.
Wallaceburg Coun. Carmen McGregor tabled a notice of motion at Monday night’s council meeting, with the hopes of making additional changes to the intersection.
“It’s a scary corner,” McGregor told the Sydenham Current.
“Especially with little kids crossing for school. I have entered a motion to change the ‘Type B’ crossover that they have put out there, which is a provincial standard light that they have right across the province warranted in different situations.”
The 4-way stop at the intersection was removed on September 1. Read our full story, here.
McGregor said her new motion is three-fold.
“What I have asked is to have it changed to pedestrian activated stop lights, similar to that as the corner of King Street and Murray and also like the one on Wellington Street by the post office. So similar to that. It actually uses a stop light to stop the traffic, as opposed to the flashing light off to the side,” McGregor said.
“The second part of the motion… I had asked previously when this started, about them conducting a study to initiate some school safety zones, so a lower speed, like a 40 km/h speed. I know that takes watching and monitoring to enforce it, but I think it works very successfully in the community to have that and not just for that school area, but for all schools in Chatham-Kent. I think that is needed in our schools in the areas.”
McGregor added: “The third part of my motion was to ask administration to work with our local school boards to offer some safety awareness sessions for staff, parents and students that are utilizing or have a change in their crossover this year, as compared to previous years.”
McGregor said her motion will come back for discussion and voting next Monday, September 18.
Protests and petition are on-going
Krystal Gyuricza, and a team of other concerned citizens, have been protesting at the intersection twice a day, before school and after school, ever since the kid’s went back on September 5.
Gyuricza told the Sydenham Current they plan on continuing their daily demonstrations until the issue is resolved.
“We are still going to be out at the corner,” she said.
“We are out at the corner in the morning and after school, and will be for the next month until this is fixed. People are still driving through the lights. People are still stopping when they are not suppose to be. People still don’t get this corner yet.”
Gyuricza said they have also gathered about 1,200 signatures for a petition they have started, about 900 online and the rest in hard copy.
The group plans on bringing a large number of people to the September 18 council meeting, where a handful of deputations are expected to be given in front of council.
“We are looking to take 50 people with us,” Gyuricza said.
“We will have a few people that will have about five minutes to chat and just say whatever it is they need to say. Hopefully council will decide that yes, we do need traffic lights there.”
Gyuricza said they are hoping for the installation of a pedestrian activated stop light and the installment of a 40 km/h school zone in front of Holy Family Catholic School on Murray Street.
“That way that will help slow some traffic down as well,” she said.
Feedback has mostly been positive from the community, Gyuricza added.
“I know that the kids are happy that we are standing there,” she said.
“I think they feel a little better with us helping them because I have physically had to go out on the road and help a couple kids cross because cars are still coming through. They are either not seeing the light or they are just not paying attention. I have had people that don’t even know me come up and say that they support us, they are behind us on this and they hope that we get this changed.”
Gyuricza said some people have said their protest signs are distracting.
“We are just trying to get the word out of why we are standing there,” she said.
“We have made new signs and hopefully they are not as distracting. We just want people to know why we are there. I think that some people are just unaware. Not everyone has social media, so we are just doing that so that everyone knows whats going on and why we are standing there. We are fighting for lights and for the speed zone to be changed.”
Gyuricza said more people are always welcome to come to the intersection
“If anyone wants to come out and volunteer that would be greatly appreciated, she said.
“We can always use extra people. Sometime people have to work and not everyone can make it, so anybody that wants to come out and help support us at the corner, it is greatly appreciated.”
The group has also launched a Facebook page: Keep Kids Safe on Murray and Reaume
Can’t just rely on statistics
McGregor said she is thankful for the group of protesters and the awareness they are bringing to the issue.
“All I can say is bless them,” she said.
“I am thankful that they are out there. They are also educating people too. They are assuring that the kids are getting across safely and you know after being out there and seeing the confusion that is going on at the that corner, it is just scary. There are people that are still stopping and then there are people that are ignoring the lights off the side and driving through.”
McGregor added: “There are people that a child is half way across and past the car so they decide to go and you know there are other kids in behind. I have seen school buses stop and back up traffic right down Reaume and around the corner, so then people are cutting around to the turning lane to get around to go straight through but that also blocks the view if anybody is in the roadway ahead of that.”
McGregor said she wouldn’t want her children or grandchildren crossing at the corner.
“I am thankful that there are some parents and people out there bringing awareness and making sure that kids are getting to school safely,” she said.
“I hope that council will see fit to make this a safer corner and a safer situation for the children that are utilizing it. Not just children, other pedestrians. Anybody crossing over there. I hope that we have a positive result next week when it comes back to council.”
McGregor said the issue at Murray Street and Reaume is not “black and white.
“The statistics we will hear next week will show that it doesn’t warrant that kind of crossover. That the amount of traffic that goes through there warrants the kind of crossover that they put there or they wouldn’t have put that one there,” McGregor said.
“I think sometimes there are individual situations that you cant just rely on the statistics. You got to be out there to see what is going on to realize the safety needs that exist. I don’t think it is always cut and dry. I will never put the safety of a child or a pedestrian on that road in front of numbers and stats. That’s not me and I can’t make that decision and I would never be able to live with myself if I didn’t try and help these parents and these children get the appropriate kind of crossover at the location.”
Watch for more on this story.
– Photo credit: Aaron Hall
* Editor’s note: We have updated this story with new information, as the Murray/Reaume group is now planning on attending the September 18 council meeting next week, as opposed to the October 2 meeting.