By William Crooks
Local Journalism Initiative
In a significant mobilization effort, parents in Waterville are challenging the Centre de Service Scolaire de la Région-de-Sherbrooke (CSSRS)’s recent decision to suspend bus services along Astbury Road, citing major safety concerns for their children. The decision, effective from Oct. 30, has sparked widespread unease and calls for action within the community.
Lucie Massinon, a local parent, expressed bewilderment over the suspension, noting the longstanding history of reliable school transportation on Astbury Road since the 1990s. She pointed out the improved condition of public roads today compared to twenty years ago, labeling the CSSRS’s decision as “completely illogical”.
The alternative route proposed by the CSSRS is deemed far less safe. It features challenges such as reduced visibility due to a sharp curve, frequent wildlife crossings, ice risks from a nearby hydraulic dam, persistent fog, and heavy, high-speed traffic of trucks and cars. These conditions represent a “real nightmare” for parents concerned about the safety of their children.
Moreover, the designated boarding point for the bus service contravenes CSSRS policy CSRS-POL-2012-02, which advocates for reasonable walking distances to bus stops. The property of one of the families lies over 600 meters from the nearest stop, exceeding the policy’s limit and thereby challenging its compliance.
Adding to the urgency, an incident on Nov. 1 highlighted systemic issues within the school’s organization. A child from Astbury Road was mistakenly sent home by bus, despite being scheduled to stay at school, resulting in the child being left alone over 600 meters from home, without sidewalks or safe passage.