Is this an accident waiting to happen?

Tensions boil as school bus convoys roll on quiet street in l’Orée-des-Bois

Parents and residents living in homes on a stretch of 39th Avenue near Jean-Bart Street in the Laval district of l’Orée-des-Bois say it’s only a matter of time before a child is seriously injured by one of the many school buses that have been rolling in convoys through their neighbourhood each weekday morning since the bus route was changed more than a year ago.

According to 39th Ave. resident Angie Cardone, the presence of the school buses on her street is a relatively new phenomenon. She said they often roll in fast-moving convoys, from 8 am to at least 8:45 am weekdays, and that many of the buses are empty when they go by.

Danger at 39th and Jean-Bart

She said that as of this year, school buses have been seen by the dozen driving daily through the intersection of 39th and Jean-Bart, where there is also a nature park that is home to a good number of ducks, beavers and rabbits that thrive in an environment right next to the Rivière des Milles Îles. She fears the animals are in danger, as much as the children, from the excessive traffic.

A big problem in the area is that there are no sidewalks. As a result, many children can be seen regularly on bikes and rollerblades in close proximity to passing traffic – including the school buses. The neighbourhood is located a short distance from the Centre de services scolaire de Laval’s École de l’Orée-des-Bois on Séguin St.

Petitions in the works

“I have called to complain to 311,” said Cardone, referring to the City of Laval’s general-purpose contact and information line, while adding that she believes the school bus traffic increased with onset of the COVID-19 pandemic early last year, although the school also underwent a building expansion a few years back.

Moms and tots are often forced to share the street with passing traffic on 39th Ave. and Jean-Bart St. in l’Orée-des-Bois because there are no sidewalks.

“We are all ready to sign petitions about this situation on Jean-Bart because of how extreme this is every day of the week at that early hour,” she said, while noting large trucks rolling on 39th and Jean Bart have also become dangerous and problematic.

‘Accident ready to happen’

Cardone maintains that while she was out on 39th Ave. one recent morning after 8 am while watering her front lawn, she spotted a child around five years old on roller blades who was between two school buses. “This is an accident ready to happen,” she told the Laval News. “We don’t know what to do.”

While saying that adults and other older residents of the street have enough common sense to step off the road and onto the side of lawns when vehicle traffic needs to pass, Cardone doubted that children will respond the same, and are thus in far greater danger.

“A child will not know and have those instincts,” she said. “This is my fear. Honest to God, if a child is between two buses, even if she’s wearing a helmet, she’s not going to get too far, you what I’m saying?”

Buses moved from 37th to 39th

Annie Goyette, assistant director of communications at the Centre de services scolaire de Laval, confirmed to the Laval News that at least some of the school buses in question are providing service for the CSSDL’s École l’Orée-des-Bois.

‘Honest to God, if a child is between two buses, even if she’s wearing a helmet, she’s not going to get too far,’ says 39th Ave. resident Angie Cardone

“We made some verifications and certain buses which are transporting students from École l’Orée-des-Bois are effectively using Jean-Bart St.,” Goyette said. “The use of this route, rather than 37th Avenue, allows traffic to be limited near the school, and this in order to be able to offer to students who are walking a secure environment.

No extra buses, claims CSSDL

“This street is similar to other streets in the neighbourhood and is located in a residential area,” she continued. “Based on available information, the number of buses has not gone up since the beginning of the pandemic. After verifying, the number of buses from the Centre de services scolaire de Laval circulating in that sector is actually similar to what it was last year.”

Goyette maintained that as the CSSDL offers school bus transit to nearly 25,000 primary school and high-school students on Laval’s territory, a priority for the CSSDL is the security of the children who attend its schools. “The security of the students remains a priority for the organization and that is why we are open and aware of the issues involving traffic near schools,” she said.