The school district decided Tuesday night that they would improve the west parking lot at Cataline Elementary School rather than implement a new bus loop between Eleventh Avenue and Blair Street. Tara Sprickerhoff photo

School district pulls U-turn on Cataline bus loop

District will improve parking lot in front of Cataline soccer field instead

After two turns at the drawing board, School District 27 trustees decided to create a third design to address safety concerns at Cataline Elementary School.

After a consultation process that saw plenty of opposition, the School District 27 School Board voted Tuesday night to expand the west parking lot at Cataline, rather than construct a new bus loop.

The Cataline Bus Lane reconfiguration proposal had initially proposed creating a bus loop opening from Eleventh Avenue through an existing laneway, and entering the playground to an existing blacktop space beside the school entrance.

It was the second such proposal put forth by the school district. The first, brought forward during the last school year, called for the removal of 90 trees to accommodate a new bus loop in the back of the school playground.

“We had lots of great feedback, lots of great ideas, and they brought up some really good points of the bus lane,” Kevin Futcher, secretary-treasurer told the board.

Read more: New bus loop proposed for Cataline Elementary School

Feedback provided to the board was overwhelmingly negative about the proposed bus loop, citing concerns about diesel exhaust for both students and neighbours, the removal of trees and play space, as well as concerns over snow removal.

The PAC suggested hiring a traffic monitor instead to address what they considered the real issue: bad driving habits.

Following up on the feedback from the public, Futcher said the school district went back to school staff, who have been working on traffic control on a daily basis.

“We sat down and looked at the plans for the bus lane and then changes for the front parking lots. Taking into account some of the input we came to the conclusion it would be worth making a change to the west parking lot.”

Busses currently go in and out of that parking lot, which is closer to Thompson Rivers University than the staff parking lot. It’s currently unpaved, and sees parents, buses and support services vehicles use it on a regular basis.

Read more: School district proposes changes to Cataline elementary

Futcher told the Tribune he’ll be directing staff to look into developing a plan for it, which will likely include paving the lot, as well as the addition of lights and other improvements.

“The administration and the school have some ideas and we will monitor how things go over the next school year,” he said, adding the school district will bring a report back to the board in 2019 of how the upgraded parking lot is working, and whether a second stage, with an added bus loop, will need to be added.

Futcher said the school district contacted TRU about using portions of their property to help with the congestion, but that the university has plans to develop their property, so the school district is limited to what they already own.

“This is a nice stepping stone, or beginning,” said Sheila Boehm, Zone 5 trustee. “We know parents are going to be watching how this is going to go.”

SD27 board chair Tanya Guenther thanked the public for their feedback.

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