Teachers and students couldn’t agree more, a no-idling zone outside Ecole Gron Morgan and Corpus Christi schools is just what their lungs are asking for.
Parents picking up their children are being asked to turn their engines off outside the school when waiting for more than 10 seconds , part of the local school boards’ school travel planning program, designed to encourage more students to either bike or walk to school.
Ecole Gron Morgan prinicipal Denise Baxter said because her school draws from such a wide area, it means a higher proportion get dropped off by parents each day.
“We have asked parents to park a block away from the school so they can take the time to walk to the school. It frees up traffic congestion around the school and it makes it a lot safer for kids not to have to walk between parked cars,” Baxter said on Tuesday at the campaign launch.
“With regard to the idling itself, there are a number of parents who are already parked to pick up their kids. The no idling signs are up and parents are turning their cars off. Anything we can do, even on a small scale to reduce air pollution I think will really ensure that we keep the clean air we have in Thunder Bay clean.”
Eleven-year-old Maya Poulin says she walks to school every day for a variety of reasons.
“It’s exercise and it’s better for the environment instead of driving,” the Grade 7 student said. “And it’s just a fun way (to get here) instead of sitting in a car,” she said.
The loss of the gas fumes outside the school suits her just fine.
“It’s kind of strong to the lungs when you’re just walking by and you can smell the fumes.”
It’s also a lot better for their well-being, said public health nurse Stasia Starr of the Thunder Bay District Health Unit.
Anti-idling programs bring more awareness to the issue, and most parents seem to understand that idling does have an impact on young lungs.
“Children are smaller, their lungs are developing and they breathe more rapidly,” she said. “From a health perspective they are impacted at a greater degree. They’re actually taking more air, so when air is more polluted, it has a greater health impact to children.”
The program was boosted through a $2,500 donation from Union Gas and was organized through EcoSuperior’s environmental programs.
In 2007 city officials directed municpal staff to observe the 10-second rule when driving city fleet vehicles and set maximum warm-up times for above and below 0 C.
A year later city council also limited idling at travel plazas to five minutes for vehicles with more than three axles.
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