A few months ago, North Vancouver Grade 5 student Lila Ryce became tired of walking into the same problem each day.
Back then, there was no crosswalk on the corner of 27th Street and Chesterfield Avenue. The busy street is on the route she and her three siblings take to get to school each day. With many cars speeding through, getting to school had become a little stressful.
So, she decided to call on the City of North Vancouver to do something about it by penning a letter to Mayor Linda Buchanan and sharing her daily experience.
“I go to Holy Trinity Elementary School on 27th Street and I walk to school every day,” Lila wrote.
“On the corner of 27th and Chesterfield I find that the cars never stop and look for pedestrians crossing. The cars on 27th speed along the school zone because the school zone is so short. And all the cars roll through the stop sign at Chesterfield.”
She continued to write that she, her two sisters, and brother were “always worried about cars” and that it was “hard to decide when it is safe to cross because there is no crosswalk.”
On top of this, despite living so close to school, Lila said her mom had been driving their youngest sister, Eleanor, who has Down syndrome, to school for the past two years, feeling it was safer, as Eleanor doesn’t know how to watch for cars.
“This year, we decided to walk every day to make us healthier and to teach Eleanor how to walk to school,” Lila explained in her letter. “Eleanor is still learning about safety and it is very important that cars slow down around her because sometimes she still runs into the street or doesn’t look.”
For these reasons, Lila called on the city to put a crosswalk at the corner of 27th Street and Chesterfield Avenue.
“Children have to rely on adults in our community to make decisions about these things, but adults should ask kids, because we know what it is like for us,” she wrote.
If you go to that corner now, you’ll notice there's a crosswalk. It was painted at the end of June. Lila wasn’t the only one calling for a crosswalk in that spot. It had been on the city’s radar, but her advocacy didn’t go unnoticed and sped things up.
The City’s Safe and Active School Travel Program works with every school to encourage healthy travel habits. Based on this work, the city makes upgrades to its active transportation network.
“That corner was on our list of places in need of a crosswalk to support the transportation needs of children in our community like Lila,” Mayor Linda Buchanan said.
“I had the pleasure of meeting her and her siblings at that corner shortly after the paint dried on the newly minted crosswalk.
“I am so proud that our youngest residents are not only embracing active modes of transport, but finding their voice, engaging in civic matters, and advocating for better infrastructure."
Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News