City of Ottawa

10/04/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 10/04/2019 13:08

Ottawa’s street-safety heroes

Now that school is back after a great summer, you may notice our street-safety heroes, the adult crossing guards, are also back in full force.

In the spirit of back-to-school, we sat down with Kelly Banks from the Ottawa Safety Council to chat about a crossing guard's rewarding work.

How does the adult crossing guard program work?

Kelly: The City partners with the Ottawa Safety Council to deliver the crossing guard program in Ottawa. Residents can call 3-1-1 to request a guard at a specific location, and the City will then conduct a study to confirm if one is needed. If a guard is warranted, the Ottawa Safety Council takes over to hire, train, equip, schedule and pay the guards. Yes! It's a paid position; guards are not volunteers.

We currently have 233 warranted locations across Ottawa with guards on morning and afternoon shifts helping elementary students cross busy intersections.

Explain a day in the life of a crossing guard.

Kelly: Crossing guards are out there in all the crazy weather we see here in Ottawa, so checking the weather daily and dressing appropriately is key to the job. Overtop of their layers, they wear an orange vest and hold onto their trusty stop sign.

Guards are often the first person a student sees at the start of their school day. Students and parents rely on guards to keep their children safe. Guards get to know the kids and watch them grow over the years. People really appreciate their crossing guards and they frequently receive thanks, cards and gifts at special times of year.

What are some of the challenges of the job?

Kelly: Dealing with rush hour traffic can make the job tricky at times. There's a lot to be aware of, and drivers can make surprising, sometimes even illegal, manoeuvres. Motorists can get impatient and forget that guards are people doing a job. But what these guards do is keep our kids safe. Despite these challenges, the rewarding nature of the job more than makes up for it. The daily smiles and thanks make all the difference.

What's something you would like residents to know about adult crossing guards?

Kelly: I always like to remind drivers to slow down and drive cautiously in school zones. When you see a crossing guard, it means children are nearby. It's important for motorists to know it's illegal to enter or pass through a crosswalk when the crossing guard is in it. Disobeying a guard's stop sign can result in fines of up to $1,000 and four demerit points.

Laws and rules aside, guards might be grandparents, parents, students or new Canadians, but whoever they are, they're people who care deeply about the safety of kids in their community. They're willing to deal with dangerous traffic, shift work and poor weather because they care so much. The next time you see a crossing guard, make sure to give them a wave and say thanks!

Interested in becoming a Crossing Guard? The Ottawa Safety Council is hiring! Consider applying if you want to work flexible hours, get outside, get active and give back to your community. Visit their Careers page(link is external) to learn more.

The Ottawa Safety Council also has a variety of resources on their website, including a section dedicated to adult crossing guards. Check it out(link is external)!

For more information on City programs and services, visit ottawa.ca or call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401). You can also connect with us through Facebook(link is external), Twitter(link is external) and Instagram(link is external).