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In Brackendale, a road no parent wants to take



It's a small stretch of road, but walking on it gives Nicole Stockley the willies.

Especially at 3 p.m.

A lack of sidewalks on Government Road in Squamish, between the intersection of Depot Road and Judd Road, means parents like Stockley have to be careful as they bring their kids home from Brackendale Elementary School.

The road is narrow, the cars are going fast and between the cars and the kids walking home, there is only a thin white line. That, Stockley says, is not enough.

"We need sidewalks here. There is no way I would ever let my kids walk to school," said Stockley, a mother of two girls, aged eight and six.

"People drive too fast on this road," said Alaine Brawley, another parent. "I have seen commercial trucks here going way over the speed limit. The speed needs to be reduced here somehow."

Haphazard parking outside the Brackendale General Store makes navigating the road even more perilous.

Another parent, Wendy Vriend, has found a solution: avoid the road altogether. Vriend said her kids take a circuitous route to the school to avoid riding their bikes on the road.

"There is just not enough shoulder there," Vriend said. "We live on Maple Crescent, but my kids take the Cottonwood Road all the way to Depot Road, just to avoid Government Road. That road is brutal."

Some parents said they take the trail along railway tracks to avoid Government Road, but that option doesn't work for those who have a stroller. In heavy rain the trail becomes too muddy.

Jeff Levine, a Brackendale resident, spoke on the issue at a recent town hall meeting. Levine said the district could build sidewalks now but add a covenant for future developers to pay the cost.

Levine said he doesn't believe putting in sidewalks can cost as much as $250 a metre, as suggested by the district.

"I really hope they do something about it because this is a serious issue," he said.

Tara Mckone, who walks her three kids to school, said she understood that building sidewalks can be expensive, but suggested better public transit might be the answer.

"We need to spend more money on public transit. My daughter can take the transit, but if she misses it, that means she will have to wait for an hour to get the next one," she said.

Cpl. Dave Ritchie of Squamish RCMP said all school areas are watched by the speed watch volunteers and the patrol officers.

"We are aware of that road and it is monitored when the children are coming or going from school," he said.

Mayor Greg Gardner said he wasn't aware of any immediate plans to construct sidewalks in that area, although he said sidewalks could be funded "either through contributions from real estate development or tax dollars."

According to Councillor Corrine Lonsdale, there needs to be collaboration between the school board and the district to commit resources annually to ensure kids get to school safely in all areas of the municipality.