For some folks, there is no price too high to protect their children or grandchildren.
Mark Alexander of Hillsdale didn’t bat an eye when told the cost of the crossing guard in his hamlet was about $25,000 per year.
“People come through here still doing 60, 70 and maybe even 80 sometimes,” Alexander said. “Knowing that this one is extremely busy and only getting busier, I have no problem with the cost.
“It’s the right decision. They’ve (Springwater Township) stepped up and done what needs to be done.”
Hillsdale’s crossing guard will be on the job when school returns in a few weeks following Springwater Township council’s decision to reinstate the position during last week’s council meeting.
At the same meeting, council then authorized three more crossing guard locations, bringing the total cost of the program to almost $100,000 per year.
All four locations will be part of a one-year trial. During the trial, data will be collected to determine if the program is beneficial or not. Council said any decision to extend the program will be made when the program expires. Council debated whether it should be a one-year or two-year trial.
One councillor, Phil Fisher, said he didn’t think it mattered if the trial was one year, two years or four years – the die is cast.
“Once you give the public this (crossing guards), they’ll love it, right?,” he said. “The reality is, and we all know, that we probably need them (crossing guards) in those areas.
“If we’re telling ourselves right now that ‘if it doesn’t warrant it we’ll take it away’, it’s easy for us to say it, I know we won’t.”
Beginning in September, there will be one crossing guard in Hillsdale (Penetanguishene and Albert), two in Elmvale (Yonge and Houden; Queen and Simcoe) and one in Midhurst (Finlay and Belmont).
In June, Springwater council decided to eliminate the Hillsdale crossing guard after it received a school crossing guard assessment report that concluded no crossing guards were warranted at any location within the township.
Expectedly, the decision caused a commotion.
Sharron Hicks, who has lived in Hillsdale since 1972, couldn’t believe the June decision.
“Our crossing guard, Carl, is about 6 foot 3 inches (almost two metres) and he wears luminescent yellow and green clothing and he waves that stop sign until you think he might take flight,” Hicks said. “And people skid to a stop in front of this big and obvious man.”
Hicks was thrilled to hear the crossing guard will be back and she’s not too concerned about the cost.
“It’s worth every penny and I can’t think of anything, beside something ludicrous, that would make me change my mind,” she said. “Those are our children. To lose one of them would be horrendous.”
Springwater Township’s chief administrative officer Jeff Schmidt said the cost of a crossing guard is high simply because of the challenge of recruiting and retaining them. A crossing guard works a split shift – morning, noon and afternoon – meaning they’re not available to work any other job and because of the job location, most crossing guards tend to be very local.
“It’s a challenging position to hire for,” Schmidt said. “There aren’t many folks who are in that position.”