New safety measures put in place outside of John Mahood PS

Parents dropping off their children at Elmira’s John Mahood Public School next week will see a few changes along First Street.
With a growing student population and an increase in the number of parents driving their children to the school, traffic congestion has been building up over the years.
As a safety precaution measures have been taken by the Township of Woolwich, along with members of the Waterloo Region District School Board and John Mahood PS to achieve the safest route for children around the school.
“The congestion and parked cars near the school were to blame for an incident last fall where a student riding a bike was struck by a car, and though the child was not seriously injured the cars parked on the street were blocking the vision of other motorists,” said Val Hummel, Woolwich’s deputy clerk.
Parents will notice changes have been made to two township-owned parking lots, the tennis court parking lot and the Gibson Park lot. Council passed a resolution last June directing staff to permanently close the west entrance of the tennis court parking lot with the intent to terminate the use of the lot as a pick-up and drop-off zone for students for the 2011-2012 school year.
The tennis court parking lot located next to John Mahood is too small to handle all the traffic, so a new curb was built blocking the westerly entrance. A barricade will be in place to warn drivers of the closure.
“The whole lot will be completely blocked off for the first couple of weeks of school until we have finished an education component with parents,” said Hummel.
Eventually, the lot will be re-opened with limited parking reserved for people with disabilities and for users of the tennis courts.
Parents will be directed to the Gibson Park lot west of the school as it is now the designated drop-off and pick-up point for students.
“We have made changes to the Gibson Park lot and have created a drop-off point for kids so they can get out of their family car walk to the sidewalk and walk straight to the school and never have to cross any paths of traffic,” Hummel explained.
Drivers will be encouraged to follow the arrows marked on the pavement around the lot in a circular pattern. At the northeast corner of the lot, a drop-off zone has been created for students.
There are 22 parking spaces in the lot for parents that need to go to the school.
The township scrapped plans opening up another driveway entrance to Gibson Park in favour of the new design of the lot at the park, along with efforts to educate parents on its use.
“It depends on what is going to work, its trial and error. We are going to try this new approach in year one and it could work beautifully, but if it doesn’t we may have to go to the second access point in Gibson Park lot and try that out,” she said.
New signs have been raised along First Street to stop vehicles from parking or stopping on the north side of the street to ensure that students both on foot and bike can be seen by motorists.
Parents of children attending John Mahood PS will be receiving a letter and map explaining the new drop-off and pick-up zones and are encouraged to call the township with any questions or concerns.

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