Baldy bus run still a no go

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
January 15th, 2010

Parents’ pleas for the reinstitution of their children’s bus run were not enough for the trustees of School District 51 to rescind their decision to cancel the Mt. Baldy / Alden Road section of the West Boundary route. Over 25 Mt. Baldy residents came out to the monthly meeting of the Board of Education on Tuesday, Jan. 12 in Midway to try and influence the decision, but the board remained firm.

The motion to rescind the board’s decision to cancel a section of the bus route in the West Boundary area that has been operating for over 25 years was put on the table at their last meeting in December. Since that time, the board met with Emcon Services Inc., the contractor responsible for road maintenance, and the Ministry of Transportation. In addition, a contractor, Frank Maraosco, was hired to prepare a risk assessment on the road. In the report Maraosco indicated that the road is unsafe with a number of concerns including a problem with the turn-around area of the run. A report that parents claim is seriously flawed.

Sharen Gibbs, just one of the parents with children who ride the bus that spoke at the meeting, countered the results in the report.

“The communications breakdown keeps getting worse,” said Gibbs. “Now we have a route hazard analysis from a certified director of public transportation as ordered by the school board. I regret to have to tell you you’ve misinformed us yet again. This report is wrong. The kilometers measure out to an unsafe turnaround, not at the intersection where the bus route has existed, but to the intersection of Gill Road and Beatty Road, evidently your expert can’t read road signs.”

Not only did Gibbs discredit the breakdown of locations done by the consultant on the route, but she also noted that the photographs taken were erroneous as well. “All the photos in the report are on the Alden Road past the section of the existing bus route. I find it insulting that you spent $1100 on a bogus report that none of the parents find valid,” said Gibbs.

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary director Bill Baird, who came out to support the Mt. Baldy families, wasn’t surprised by the board’s decision but believes it is part of a larger problem for the small communities of the West Boundary.

“There’s more to it than safety,” said Baird, “it’s not an issue. They’re (the board) trying to cut back on bus transportation, they’re looking at closing Beaverdell school, and on the west side (of the district) we really don’t have a voice. Even the representative from Greenwood voted against it. What does that say?”

School superintendent Michael Strukoff told the people present that they will talk further with the consultant about the discrepancies in the report and will be looking over the route yet again. Strukoff will include a parent from the area in the process. “We will revisit the site. So now there’s more and more concern there’s maybe some inaccuracies, well, we’re prepared to go and have another hard look,” said Strukoff.

Trustees expressed that they had to make their decision based on the safety concerns raised by the consultant and their staff. However, the board assured the parents that another motion could be brought forward in future meetings to change the bus route or rescind the original motion, but the parents of the community are skeptical about the future process.

“We went out today and took photographs and did the measurements. But with the lack of communications and the track record you might want to be sure you’re pointing in the right direction,” said Gibbs. “You really want to make sure you get the facts straight and the information correct.”

Categories: General