Popular Pointe Claire avenue to undergo possible facelift to remedy safety concern

Anthony Abbondanza
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Douglas Shand Avenue is the site of daily morning traffic congestion, mostly as a result of parents dropping off their John Rennie High students across the street in the Pointe Claire Library parking lot.

Officials from the city of Pointe Claire, Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) and Marguerite Bourgeoys School Board (CSMB) are collaborating to remedy a long-time safety issue on Douglas Shand Avenue in Pointe Claire, the Chronicle has learned.

Commissioned by the parties involved, a study carried out by CIMA, an engineering and urban planning consulting firm, recommended several changes to the avenue in late May including moving the John Rennie High School (JRHS) parking lot entrance to St. John's Boulevard.

"Lot of options (are) being considered," said LBPSB chairman Suanne Stein Day, who confirmed the possible changes to the avenue. "So far the city is talking to us. We're hoping when it comes down to action, everyone will work together closely to come to a solution."

The safety dilemma arises when parents use the Pointe Claire Library parking lot, across the avenue from JRHS, as a drop-off zone for their children. The students then illegally cross Douglas Shand Avenue through the no-vehicle restricted zone adjacent to the JRHS parking lot entrance, causing high traffic in the morning and evening rush hours, as well as some near-accidents in the last two years, according to a source in connection with the LBPSB.

Among the other recommendations presented during a May 27 John Rennie governing board meeting was the installation of a fence from the corner of St. John's Boulevard to the shared parking lot where the school buses which drop off both JRHS and Ecole Pointe Claire students park.

According to a source in close connection with the LBPSB, the purpose of the fence is to force the high school students to cross the street at the corner of St. John's and Douglas Shand rather than jaywalk where no crossing is indicated.

A source close to city hall said the installation of a fence is key to mitigating part of the safety problem.

Another recommendation was the designation of a kiss-and-go drop-off zone at the horseshoe-style parking lot for parents of both schools, which operate different opening and closing hours, as well as moving two STM bus stops further east on Douglas Shand.

Though all parties involved have yet to officially accept the recommendations, Stein Day told the Chronicle "everyone is on the same page."

"Co-operation between all three parties has been happening. That's the key to success," said the chairman.

According to a source, the school board's governing board is in favour of most of the recommendations, if not all, as is JRHS, yet the former awaits formal school-board approval of the plan.

Similarly, the city has recognized the need for change on Douglas Shand, according to a source, though city council has yet to approve any plans for a fence adjacent to JRHS, nor has it begun talks with the STM to move buses further east on the said avenue.

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Organizations: John Rennie High School, Lester B. Pearson School Board, Marguerite Bourgeoys School Board CSMB Pointe Claire Library

Geographic location: Pointe Claire, St. John's Boulevard, Douglas Shand Avenue

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