Ottawa Dad Calls for More Empathy from Bylaw Services Amid School Pick-up Chaos


In Ottawa, a father named Stephen Albert is advocating for Bylaw Services officers to exhibit more compassion towards drivers tasked with picking up their children in school zones. This plea came after Albert was fined $105 for stopping in an intersection near a Stittsville school during the usual after-school rush.

Albert’s encounter with the Bylaw Services officer was precipitated by the cessation of the school bus intended for his three children, an event causing him and his wife to rearrange their schedule for school drop-offs and pick-ups. In a letter to Coun. David Brown, Albert describes the pick-up period as “significantly overcrowded” due to numerous bus cancellations, forcing many parents, including himself, to find available parking spots.

Albert shared his personal experience, recounting how he was stung with the ticket while waiting inside his car which he had parked beyond the no-stopping zone clearly demarcated. He admits it was his oversight but underscores the broader issue – the current chaos at the school due to an unexpected increase in parent pick-ups and the perceived unyielding nature of Bylaw Services during this stressful time. Many parents, he stated, are inching their way through the turbulent pick-up period, trying their best under trying circumstances.

During a conversation with Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa Now, Albert conceded his mistake of stopping in an intersection. Still, he expressed concern about what he describes as a lack of empathy from Bylaw Services, as well as a sense that officers were merely fulfilling a quota.

Roger Chapman, the director of Ottawa Bylaw and Regulatory Services, explained that increased officer presence in school zones is intended to educate parents and enforce parking restrictions if required. The primary purpose of these restrictions is to ensure the smooth flow of traffic and pedestrian mobility with the foremost consideration being the safety of all involved – parents, students, school staff, and the wider community. This year’s spike in issues has been fuelled by the severe school bus shortages, leading to more parents transporting their children, resulting in escalated safety concerns.

So far, three tickets have been issued near A. Lorne Cassidy Elementary School in Stittsville since the beginning of September, two of them for stopping in a ‘no stopping’ zone and one for stopping in an intersection. Despite other violations, Bylaw officers have used these circumstances as educational opportunities and have even aided in directing traffic. Chapman assures that the organization recognizes the challenges faced by drivers, particularly during the school year’s initial phase. Safety, he reiterates, remains the highest priority.

Albert divulged that Bylaw Services officers had informed other parents about traffic-related complaints in the vicinity after school hours. He empathized with the residents sharing the area, but also reflected on his own inconvenience. The father suggested that if safety is at the heart of the issue, perhaps a different approach could be considered. He suggested deploying police officers during the busiest times to help alleviate traffic and guide drivers to park in spots not typically available.

Coun. Clarke Kelly confirmed the escalating chaos in school zones in the western end, primarily due to numerous bus cancellations. Kelly portrayed a scene of “absolute mayhem,” with pedestrians dashing across roads, ill-advised U-turns, congested traffic in both lanes, and even police intervention at some schools.


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