The Telegram: NDP MP Chow Meets with Founder of Jessica Campaign
September 7, 2012
Olivia Chow, a Toronto MP and the widow of the late Jack Layton, met with Jeanette Holman-Price at the St. John’s Municipal Depot Thursday afternoon to take a look at trucks used by the city that feature side guards.
Chow is in St. John’s for a federal NDP caucus meeting.
Side guards are an additional layer added to the side of a truck to help prevent cyclists and pedestrians from falling under them in the event of a collision.
Holman-Price is the founder of The Jessica Campaign, named after her daughter, Jessica Holman-Price.
On Dec. 19, 2005, a snow removal vehicle hit Jessica and her brother, Peter-Luc Holman-Price, as they were about to use a crosswalk in Montreal, where the family was living at the time.
Jessica was killed, while Peter-Luc suffered a brain injury.
“When we first saw the vehicle, we thought it was missing a side guard,” said Jeanette Holman-Price, noting her family has spent time in Europe, where side guards are more commonly used. “Everywhere else we’ve travelled, side guards were in existence.”
Chow has re-introduced a private member’s bill in Parliament designed to protect pedestrians and cyclists from falling under heavy vehicles. It was first presented in 2010 by former St. John’s South Liberal MP Siobhan Coady and seconded by Chow.
“It doesn’t cost that much money at all,” said Chow. “There’s absolutely no reason not to do it.”
Speaking on the bill prospects for obtaining bipartisan support in a Parliament ruled by a majority Conservative government, Chow noted that Transport Minister Denis Lebel is a cyclist, riding hundreds of kilometres each summer.
“His thing though, is he kept saying the (Canadian) Trucking Alliance are not supportive of it, which is not completely true,” said Chow. “I just think they’re not familiar with it. … It’s not something that’s very North American. But if you go to Europe, all trucks have these side guards. I was in China in April. They all have side guards.”
She suggests the federal government could look at offering grants to help the industry deal with the associated costs, adding the cost is not always that significant.
Chow said some aerodynamic designs can increase fuel efficiency, allowing the side guards to pay for themselves over time.
The Jessica Campaign was quick to grab the attention of the City of St. John’s.
Jeanette Holman-Price met for lunch with then-Deputy Mayor Dennis O’Keefe, who voiced his support early on and asked what could be done to help. She said that if he were to get elected as mayor, he should get the city to consider getting side guards for its fleet.
The city has since adopted a policy that requires companies contracted to provide such vehicles to equip them with side guards. “Some of their suppliers were hesitant initially, because the trucks have got so much equipment on them that they couldn’t see any way they could do it,” said Paul Mackey, the city’s director of public works. “But we said, ‘Well you have to do it, or we don’t consider your bid.’ They found a way to do it. … They might have had to move things a little bit, but it can be done.”
The city has also retrofitted some of its older trucks to include side guards. Others are too old to accommodate them, said Mackey.
Jeanette Holman-Price said her focus is to bring municipalities on board with using side guards, adding groups such as Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities have already voiced support for such efforts.
She is also optimistic about the future of the bill currently before Parliament.
“It’s a non-partisan issue, because it’s road safety and saving lives.”
Source: The Telegram