KAMLOOPS — It's been an issue for years, but with higher enrolment and more kids being driven to school, the pressure to find a solution to the traffic crunch at Westmount Elementary School in Westsyde is ramping up.
"It can take 15-plus minutes to get out," said parent Erin Gardner. "Causes huge congestion and people can't move, so if there was any kind of emergency, there's no way to get vehicles in or out."
Fellow Westmount parent Christy Campbell has been dealing with the traffic chaos for a decade, but in the last few years the high volume of cars has hit a breaking point.
"It's a gongshow," said Campbell. "You have to pay attention for the kids and the adults in the crosswalk and you have to watch out for the other vehicles."
The issue was discussed at Monday's school board meeting and the district noted 100 more students have enrolled at the school in the past few years, and more parents are dropping off their kids.
"Those schools were designed for students to walk to, and with the development in Batchelor Heights and families moving into our communities, we really are seeing pressures on all facilities," said Superintendent Alison Sidow. "But when you have one road in and one road out, it creates a real traffic jam and it's something that we're committed to resolving."
The district has hired an independent traffic engineer to look into solutions.
"It would appear having a traffic light that's timed during those busy, high-volume times in the morning and after school would make a lot of sense," said Sidow. "It's something we'll be exploring with the city."
Some parents want bus service, which they believe would reduce the traffic in and out of the school.
"I know there's been lots of talk about re-opening schools and things like that," said parent Erin Gardner. "I think really to start is having school buses come from Batch area down to Westmount. That would clear out the majority of this congestion."
Campbell added, "There are 170 kids up in Batchelor coming down to this school and the two paid school buses would be good."
Westmount is on the School District 73's list of capital projects, but behind schools like Valleyview and South Kamloops Secondary. Sidow noted it would be $8 million to expand the school and the parking lot.
Sidow and the school board are looking at options to re-open Westsyde Elementary to alleviate pressure, but she said it would be a last resort.
The independent traffic study will be finished and presented to the board on March 12.
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