By J.W. Schnarr
For the Sunny South News
Police Advisory Committee
Coaldale council was provided with their first update on the town’s new Police Advisory Committee (PAC) during a regular meeting on June 27. Jake Van Seters, PAC chair, and Coaldale RCMP Sgt. Glenn Henry were on hand to inform council on the status of the committee.
Back in January, council appointed a PAC committee consisting of five volunteers from the community and two council members. The committee meets on the fourth Wednesday of the month and has been focusing on understanding their role and mandate.
“This is a new committee,” said Seters.
“We have just started to dip our toes into the water, so to speak.”
The PAC has identified a need to inform the community about the roles and duties it takes part in, and is in the middle of a media campaign to spread the word.
Some of those duties include regular interaction with police and a number of presentations on a range of topics designed to help PAC members better understand some of the different roles of policing in the community. Some of these presentations have included photo radar, public safety service, and a crosswalk presentation.
Additionally, suggestions and concerns brought to the attention of committee members have been brought forward to members of the local police.
“There is a good atmosphere of co-operation,” said Seters.
“I feel the committee is starting to gain some traction.”
The three main issues the PAC has tackled to this point include the possibility of changing pedestrian crossings in the town and especially around the schools in the area in order to make them easier to see.
The PAC has also discussed the position of the new director of emergency services starting in August, and how CPOs and law enforcement might pool resources to avoid duplicating services.
“The committee would like to see their roles defined, and have a community standards bylaw be developed,” said Seters.
Finally, Seters told council the PAC has no operating budget and requested funding for a pull-up banner stand for promotional use. After discussion, council allotted $1,000 to the committee to help with their promotional needs.
The Town of Coaldale could have zebra stripes in its future as a way to increase crosswalk safety in the community.
During a regular meeting on June 27, council heard from a representative of the town’s new Police Advisory Committee (PAC) about the issue of crosswalk visibility and safety –— especially around schools in the area.
Jake Seters, PAC chair, told council the community has concerns regarding public safety in terms of congestion, jaywalking, and U-turns at school locations, particularly when parents are dropping off and picking up students.
“While there is a police presence at the school, we felt part of the problem was not having enough clearly-marked, pedestrian-controlled crosswalks,” he said.
One option available would be a redesign for the pedestrian crossings to a “Zebra” pattern, also sometimes called a “ladder” pattern crosswalk of alternating stripes — though zebra patterns may also contain diagonal stripes, while ladder patterns do not.
The goal would be to repaint key crosswalks at the schools and with the intention all crosswalk locations in Coaldale would eventually feature this design.
“They are larger and much more visible,” said Seters.
He stated while the PAC recognizes there could be additional costs involved, they endorse the concept.
Coun. Bill Martens suggested Jennie Emery Elementary School could have the most pressing concerns for crosswalk safety.
“Basically, it’s a whole block of a crosswalk,” he said. “I live just south of there and go by quite frequently. You have to go by half the speed of the school zone, because it’s just kids crossing continuously.”
“I don’t know if maybe it’s an education thing, that parents don’t want to teach their kids to go to the corner to cross,” he added.
There has been some discussion for crosswalks at the corners of the school to be upgraded, as well as a potential third crosswalk in the middle of the block.
Encouraging parents to educate their children on crosswalk safety was also discussed.
Coun. Jack Van Rijn suggested funds collected from photo radar tickets could be spent on crosswalk upgrades, as part of a goal of improving general safety in the community.
A final decision on the crosswalks is yet to be made, but it was noted the costs involved with painting the road are considered part of normal expenses and might not incur additional costs to the town.