BARRHEAD/WESTLOCK - Despite making little progress over the past year in their campaign to raise the provincial speed limit for school buses, Pembina Hills trustees are continuing their efforts by submitting a letter to Alberta Transportation Minister Ric McIver and reaching out to the province through other communication channels.
In 2019, the Pembina Hills board developed a policy position for the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) calling on the province to eliminate the 90-kilometre speed limit imposed on school buses.
Alberta is the only province in Canada that requires school buses to drive no faster than 90 kilometres per hour, even when the posted speed limit is higher.
This has long been a source of friction between the public and school bus drivers, which has sometimes led to drivers being subjected to rude hand gestures or people trying to pass buses in an unsafe manner.
As well, allowing school buses to drive the posted speed limit would reduce ride times for students.
The policy position was adopted by the ASBA membership, which means the association has attempted to lobby the province on this issue.
Pembina Hills trustees have also met with local MLAs and provincial transportation associations regarding this issue, but alas, their efforts have not yet produced any results.
During the Feb. 10 meeting, board chair Jennifer Tuininga said she had sent off another letter to McIver a week earlier after their first letter in February 2020 failed to garner any response.
Her question to the other trustees was whether they should be doing anything else to try and lobby the government.
Trustee Jackie Carson, who had recently took part in an Advocacy Leadership Academy on Feb. 8, noted her main takeaway from that event was that they simply can’t give up.
“You have to continue to push and push,” she said.
Carson pointed out that there was a town hall being hosted by Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland MLA Shane Getson on Feb. 13 where the trustees could speak their case. (Getson’s constituency encompasses the hamlet of Busby, which Carson represents.)
Trustee Wendy Scinski said she agreed with Carson that the board needs to keep pushing this issue, adding that she didn’t think the general public understood why school buses are forced to travel below the posted speed limit on highways.
“I would be supportive of trying to establish a meeting (with the minister),” she said.
Tuininga indicated that the request for such a meeting was included in the letter to McIver, but following up with some calls was likely the only way it would actually happen.
EDITOR'S NOTE: As of Feb. 22, the Pembina Hills trustees have been contacted by the Transportation Minister and have a meeting with McIver scheduled for Wednesday, March 3.