Woolwich investigates traffic woes around Breslau school

Last updated on May 18, 23

Posted on May 18, 23

3 min read

Like many schools, St. Boniface in Breslau is the scene of some chaos at the beginning of the day as parents look to drop off their kids. The situation repeats itself when the final bell rings.

Throw in the movement of buses and the kids who make their way to and from the school under their own steam, and bedlam is to be expected. Dealing with it is another matter.

Woolwich Township is responsible for enforcing parking bylaws. Waterloo Regional Police are the only body that can enforce speeding and other moving violations. The school board is responsible for providing a drop-and-kiss area. The school’s principal oversees its use. Coordination is something of a problem.

In the meantime, some parents worry about their children’s safety, while residents in the surrounding neighbourhood contend with cars parked across their driveways, speeding vehicles, noise and issues related to congestion on school days.

St. Boniface is not unique in that regard, but it is a new school in a growing subdivision, which presents its own challenges, says Jared Puppe, Woolwich’s director of infrastructure services.

The school’s location is not as originally planned, and traffic patterns alter over time as the residential subdivision builds out, making it more difficult to carry out traffic-calming measures, he noted.

The township is looking to alter the stop sign configuration at Starlight Avenue and Shallow Creek Road, along with other measures to improve the flow of both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

Also in the works are plans for speed monitoring in the area, including along Woolwich Street.

“We get calls about speeding, and we need to determine if that perception is reality or not,” said Puppe, noting past monitoring has shown most drivers – the 85th percentile factor – travel at or below the posted speed limit.

He provided a similar update last week to Woolwich councillors, who were discussing traffic issues around the school.

“I’ve been out to the Shallow Creek, Starlight, Trowbridge area a few times, and particularly when school is letting out, it is a horrible mess. I hate to say that, but cars were parked everywhere, kids were just running all over the place, people were running stop signs. Nobody was following the speed limits,” said Coun. Bonnie Bryant.

“Residents are really concerned about the safety of the kids. The school needs to set up a pickup program where the parents are going into the parking lot to pick the kids up – they were blocking driveways. I’ve never seen such a thing. It was just horrible to watch.”

Blocked driveways are a common complaints from residents around the school, notes Woolwich clerk Jeff Smith, whose department is responsible for bylaw enforcement, adding that similar problems exist around Breslau Public School and Riverside Public School in Elmira.

“Bylaw enforcement is specifically looking at people blocking driveways and people parking in no- parking zones. Those are the two biggest ones,” he said.

“We provide education first, wherever possible, but we can ticket if we need to. We’re also looking at working with our engineering folks and the school board and principals to see if there’s any other solutions that we can come up with, though those will be longer-term.”

In Breslau, the Waterloo Catholic District School Board has plans to reconfigure the property on which St. Boniface sits. It will be talking with the township about plans for that site, though how the changes might impact parking and drop-off concerns remains to be determined.

“There isn’t necessarily an absolute policy, but where the site configuration permits, we prioritize having onsite pickup and drop-off for buses. And then if the site allows, we will have some possibility for onsite pickup and drop-off activity by parents as well,” said Jennifer Passy, WCDSB’s manager of planning.

Currently, parents parking and accompanying their children are asked to use a large lot on the west side of the school. Parents using the drop-and-kiss spot on the east side, closed at present, are not supposed to exit their vehicles.

The west side lot is on land that will be turned over to the township for parkland, with the board currently finalizing the acquisition of 2.2 acres of land on the south side of the school. That will be the site of a reworked parking area, said Passy.

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Steve Kannon

A community newspaper journalist for three decades, Steve Kannon is the editor of the Observer.

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