School zone enforcement ‘a cash grab’

Source: Winnipeg Sun

Critics claim city circumvents spirit of the law with enforcement practices


By , Winnipeg Sun

 Thursday, May 18, 2017

[exerpts regarding the Twelve Tribes in Winnipeg are in bold]

Ellen Douglass School

A reduced-speed school zone warning sign near Ellen Douglass School on Elgin Avenue in Winnipeg on Mon., May 15, 2017. The school has been operating an off-campus high school class and the building has been sold, but the city still has it designated a school zone. (Kevin King/Winnipeg Sun/Postmedia Network)

                                                       The city of Winnipeg is likely using mobile radar units to enforce school zone speed limits in areas a motorist advocate argues should not be deemed as such.

Wise Up Winnipeg’s Todd Dube says the city is unfairly designating and enforcing school zones in areas that have loose definitions of what constitutes a school.

In one area, Dube charges, the city has circumvented language in provincial law to establish a school zone outside a residential home and enforces a reduced 30 km/h speed limit there.

At 89 East Gate stands the home to Twelve Tribes, a religious group that is officially listed as a school but serves as a communal home to “more than 60 of us, including children” according to its web site.

The province refers to 89 East Gate as a “non-funded independent school,” but a portion of the Education Administrative Act singles out such an institution as not meeting the criteria of a private school. The act states a private school “does not include any home or place” referred to in a Public Schools Act clause dealing with non-funded independents.

“They dotted them all over the city to the extreme,” Dube said. “There’s school zones that were never school zones before reduced speed zones (came into law in 2014). They just appeared. They don’t even hold themselves to their very clear provincial criteria. Believe me there are more.”

In a statement, a city spokeswoman said the annual Schools in Manitoba book serves as reference for what the city determines is a school and, by extension, a school zone.

That book, however, has inconsistencies that call into question its efficacy. The phone number listed for Twelve Tribes is not assigned to the organization and a man who answered a reporter’s call to that number did not know what Twelve Tribes was.

The book also calls Ellen Douglass School on Elgin Avenue a K-12 school, but a Winnipeg School Division spokeswoman said it is not that and is instead being used for “off-campus programs” for high school students. The spokeswoman also confirmed the building has been sold but the WSD has permission “to run a small off-campus class there” until the end of the school year.

At the very least, Dube said, those inconsistencies call into question the city’s practices.

“It makes you wonder why we pay so many people so much money,” he said. “… The public needs to re-evaluate how much of their paycheques they’re willing to hand over to an increasingly disconnected civil service.”

Multiple requests for interviews with a representative of the city were not accommodated.

Multiple requests to the Winnipeg Police Service to confirm if they’ve enforced the Elgin zone recently were not answered.

Rodney Bolianaz, a former traffic enforcement specialist with the Winnipeg Police Service said instances like these make it easy for the public to be cynical about the city’s practices.

“Did they just do this whole thing because they’re trying to make a cash grab? Anybody in the world can say ‘No, it’s about the safety of the children and it’s a good idea’ and have a pragmatic argument,” said Bolianaz, who now runs ticket-fighting operation “But the way it’s being done, in my opinion, is a cash grab.”

Twitter: @LarkinsWSun

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