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Parents concerned after crossing guard removed from Donlands and Plains

Last Updated Jan 9, 2018 at 8:13 am EDT

Update on Tuesday: Toronto police say the school crossing guard will be reinstalled at Donlands Avenue and Plains Road.

Original story below from Monday:

As students return to school for the first time in 2018, residents from one east-end neighbourhood say a minor change, which will reportedly come into effect on Monday, has brought on major concerns.

Residents in East York say there will no longer be a school crossing guard at Donlands Avenue and Plains Road to help families navigate the intersection.

Some of the kids who use the intersection before and after school told CityNews the vehicles don’t come to a complete stop when they’re crossing.

“I know how dangerous this intersection is, so to think that children will be crossing without a crossing guard really concern me,” Cindy Chow, a concerned parent, said.

With several schools in the area, the parents said an automated crosswalk alone doesn’t always stop traffic, and that it makes the busy intersection even more dangerous with no crossing guard planted there.

“It’s the physical stop sign, the visual person entering with a stop sign and stopping cars,” Peter Nikolakakos, whose child goes to school in the area, explained.

“A lot of people don’t actually look up and see the lights are blinking.”

While CityNews was on scene interviewing parents, a police officer pulled over several vehicles for not coming to a complete stop and driving through the intersection before the pedestrian got to the other side.

The officer said he let the drivers go off with a stern warning and reminded them of the $250 fine.

The School Crossing Guards Program is part of Toronto police’s Traffic Safety Program and in previous years its been a challenge finding people to fill these positions.

Parents say were told the program would be discontinued through a school newsletter, shortly before the Christmas break. After hearing the news they contacted the school crossing guard coordinator, through email, to ask why the crossing guard was removed.

“Police Services had stated that they did a study and saw only three unaccompanied children crossing on three days that they did the study. But, if you talk to everyone here, I don’t think that’s everyone else’s perception here,” parent Chris Dobson said.

“We were never informed that they were considering getting rid of the crossing guard in the first place.”

CityNews reached out to the School Crossing Guard Coordinator, but an out of office email said he wouldn’t be able to respond until Monday.

Toronto police weren’t able to confirm on Sunday why the crossing guard was removed from the Donlands and Plains Roads intersection, but a spokesperson told CityNews that the safety of children and the community is a priority.

Parents have since taken to social media advocating for the crossing guard to be reinstated, even launching an online petition.

“If they start cutting crossing guards here, who knows where it’ll happen next,” Dobson added.