SUMMERSIDE – With the winter season in full swing, local crossing guards are on high alert to get students safely across busy streets and intersections.
© Brett Poirier/Special to Journal Pioneer
Local crossing guard Josie Gower helps a group of Parkside Elementary School students across a high traffic area after a day of school.
Josie Gower has been a crossing guard for more than six years and says winter is always the most dangerous for her and the kids.
“The streets are narrower, and everything is packed tight because the cars have less area to drive,” said Gower.
Gower works at the corner of Spring and Green streets mornings and afternoons for the Summerside Intermediate and Parkside Elementary schools’ rush hour.
During lunchtime she’s at the busy intersection of Green and Granville streets, where most of the people crossing are SIS students.
“Lunch hour is really busy for me, there’s a lot of pedestrian and student traffic,” she said. “It’s extra difficult when some students don’t stop for the sign, that puts the both of us at risk.”
City crossing guards are employed by Summerside Police Services, with nine full-time guards and two spare guards on staff.
Sgt. Barry Arsenault is well aware of the dangers that students and guards face during the winter months.
“The visibility gets worse, the stopping time is much higher, snow banks reduce visibility and students lose some visibility when they’re bundled up,” said Arsenault.
Another issue facing the department is the constant demand for more crossing guards.
“We evaluate on a yearly basis on where we should and shouldn’t have guards in place,” he said. “Everywhere we consider to be necessary is covered, but we’re always open to opinions and suggestions on what we can do to improve the safety of our children.”
Gower feels that the police have done well placing guards, but a few more could be added. She suggested that a good spot to put one would be at entrance of the Queen Elizabeth Baseball Park on Granville Street.
In the meantime, local guards like Gower try to make the best of the winter months and look forward to a thawing spring.