© Submitted photo
A Newfoundland and Labrador English School District bus is seen travelling on Farm Road in Gillams in this recent photo.
CORNER BROOK — When it comes to busing, the responsibility of the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District is to ensure safety for students along any route.
“That’s always our paramount concern,” said Tony Stack, the board’s assistant director of education (operations).
Despite area parents pushing for a bus run on Farm Road in Gillams for a number of years, Stack said the former Western School District and the new board felt the road just wasn’t safe for a bus to travel on.
From the board’s perspective some areas of the road needed to be cut back to improve visibility, some excavation needed to be carried out to widen the road in areas and a suitable turnaround needed to be constructed.
“All of those things were required in order to have a route go down there in a safe manner,” said Stack.
He said while the situation may have been a unique to the Farm Road area, it is something that is seen in other areas from time to time.
“Throughout the entire province really there are always situations where a bus may not be able to traverse down a road.” Stack said in those cases the board tries to make arrangements to conduct runs in a safe manner.
Over the past year, the parents on Farm Road enlisted the help of the town in making it possible to meet the board’s requirements. Parents cut brush along the road and the town hired a contractor to complete the project.
The final bits of required work were completed in the last couple of weeks and on Monday the school board officially started a Farm Road run.
“I’m really happy the town and the folks in the area that worked on the improvements and our own transportation personnel in the western regional office collaborated and co-operated to make this happen,” said Stack.
He commended both the Town of Gillams for the work it carried out and Lenny Hann, the board’s manager of student transportation in the western region, for placing safety as his priority. Stack said Hann was very thorough and always had safety in the forefront of decision making on that route.
The board had decided to service the area with a 46-passenger bus, but with over 30 children living on the road and picking up a few from some other areas that bus was almost at capacity.
Instead, Stack said the board has put a 70-passenger bus on the route.
“So there’s ample room should there be any concerns down the road with student population,” he said.
The bus travelling Farm Road stops at four locations to pick up and drop off students. There are stops at the intersection of the road with Blanchard’s Lane, at the Meadow’s Lane intersection, at 45 Farm Rd. and in front of the old Templeton Collegiate school.