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Social Justice 12 class asks City of Port Alberni for orange crosswalks

Students want to see orange crosswalks outside of local schools
A group of Social Justice 12 students at Alberni District Secondary School are asking the city to install orange crosswalks around town. (ELENA RARDON / Alberni Valley News)

A group of students at Alberni District Secondary School (ADSS) wants to see some of Port Alberni’s crosswalks turn orange.

Seven students from Anne Ostwald’s Social Justice 12 class approached Port Alberni city council during a committee of the whole meeting on Monday, Jan. 29 and asked for crosswalks outside of each Port Alberni school to be painted orange to promote Truth and Reconciliation and to acknowledge the impact of residential schools on local First Nations.

“One thing we focused on while developing this project was consent,” explained Grade 12 student Kelcie Sam. Students reached out to residential school survivors and representatives from Tseshaht First Nation and Hupacasath First Nation for permission before moving forward with the project. They are still waiting to hear back from local elders.

Sam said the group has also made a how-to booklet, so that other schools can pursue the idea in their own communities.

In their research, students discovered that each crosswalk would cost about $2,300 to paint, but city CAO Mike Fox warned that the cost could be higher if the city is replacing a crosswalk that is already painted.

“To remove the white [paint] that is there would cost about $2,600 to remove that before we can use the clean slate,” he said.

Ostwald’s Social Justice 12 class has come to council many times in the past few years, with ideas such as a youth liaison officer and a student city shadow council.

“Every year that Ms. Ostwald’s class comes and presents ideas to us, they are always so well thought-out and we are always incredibly impressed by the diligence you’ve done,” said Mayor Sharie Minions.

“I’m quite impressed with your thoroughness, your research and your sensitivity,” added Coun. Todd Patola.

The committee recommended including the request for orange crosswalks in this year’s budget discussions, pending a response from local elders. The committee also agreed to forward the request to the city’s next advisory traffic committee meeting, which will take place in April.

“We’ve got a few rainy months to go before we’re in line-painting weather,” acknowledged Minions.

Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
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