The Greater Victoria Crossing Guard Association (GVCGA) is asking the City of Victoria for more funding to cover the upcoming school year.
In 2018 the GVCGA took over the crossing guard duties from Beacon Community Services, which usually received a grant from Victoria between $30,000-$37,000. After stepping forward, the GVCGA fought to transfer funding already approved to Beacon from local municipalities, mostly with success. What the group didn’t anticipate was that Beacon Community Services hadn’t applied for any funding whatsoever in 2018.
“We’ve had a shortfall in funding,” said GVCGA president Audrey Smith. “We discovered the problem our association is facing due to the transition that happened between service procurement.”
This has led to delayed back payments that already swallowed up the $25,000 the City of Victoria approved for 2019, prompting the GVCGA to request an additional $69,000 to allow for staffing from September 2019 to June 2020. This would help cover 10.5 positions, two hours per school day at minimum wage, insurance and management costs. It would would also allow for two vacancies to be filled at the intersections of Hillside Avenue and Doncaster Drive, and Bay and Forbes Streets.
The GVCGA also receives $84,300 from Saanich, $32,420 from View Royal, $6,500 from the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, $20,000 from the Macaulay Elementary PAC, and $13,100 from Oak Bay to meet budget costs for crosswalks across Greater Victoria.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said the matter needs to still be discussed by councillors, but is supportive of issuing a grant from the city’s contingency fund.
“Kids are our most vulnerable road users, and most vulnerable pedestrians,” Helps said. “We need crossing guards to ensure they’re crossing the street safely.”
Helps added that more pedestrians are anticipated coming as of 202o with the Greater Victoria School District’s (SD61) catchment boundary changes.
SD61 has not put forward any funds to cover the costs of crossing guards, Smith said, adding that it was her understanding that streets and transportation fall out of the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education.
Regardless, Helps said more conversations need to happen with the school district to ensure a more sustainable payment method for crossing guards.
“September is around the corner and I don’t think we should bicker about who is going to pay for kids’ safety,” Helps said. “But, hopefully we can have a larger conversation about this soon.”
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