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CORNER BROOK As far as Robert Barrett is concerned the children of Farm Road in Gillams are being used as pawns in the political game.
“It’s just getting absolutely nowhere and ridiculous,” said Barrett of efforts to get a school bus for the road.
Barrett was a trustee on the board of the former Western School District before consolidation of the province’s four school boards resulted in the dissolving of the local boards and the appointment of a provincial board.
He lives on Farm Road and said the need for a bus there is something he lobbied for during his entire term.
“I’ve brought this up to the school board I couldn’t tell you how many times,” he said by phone on Tuesday. “Because that was one of the things that the people over here wanted, and I believe I was elected by the people to try to do what I could for them.”
But he said every time he brought it up the subject was deferred or he was told busing manager Lenny Hann was going to look into it.
He even went so far as to bring Ross Elliott, the former director of education for the Western District, and Brian Feltham, former assistant director of finance and administration, out to show them the road.
Finally, there appeared to be some movement on the issue when the board informed parents and the town of what was required to enable a bus to safely operate on the road. Blind turns in the road needed to be opened up and a turnaround put in place.
Work on that started early in September with parents clearing brush from the road and then a contractor, hired by the town, set about to do the rest of the work.
“They’ve done their due diligence, and there’s still no bus,” said Barrett.
“Every time they get to the point where it should be OK now, they (the board) come out for another inspection, and no there’s another issue. They want more done.”
Barrett said he doesn’t know why the bus is being held up, especially since the vehicle as been acquired for the run.
The purchase of seven larger buses was approved during the last meeting of the Western board and Barrett said when he asked about the smaller one for Farm Road he was told it was looked after.
He also agrees with a statement by parent Tammy Park that there are worse areas of the north shore that are serviced by buses.
He said Lower Cove Road in McIvers is just one example. Barrett describes the road as one big blind turn and said in places the guardrails are the same height as the road and the bus can not turn around on the road without backing up which is a safety issue.
“It’s OK there, but it’s not OK here.”
Barrett said in his opinion, which comes from a background as a police officer and involvement with a construction safety association in Nova Scotia, that Farm Road is safe for a bus.
“Municipal Affairs has two pits in here operated by companies. Tandem dump trucks can go in and out this road without a problem.”