By Jan Dean
GARY White is the crossing guard at the corner of St. George and Greenock Streets.
It’s a quiet corner except for mornings and afternoon when children are heading to school and heading home.
“The kids are great,” says Gary. “They’re fun to deal with.”
But the drivers?
“Ninety per cent of drivers do a rolling stop, even when I’m here and have my stop sign raised,” says Gary.
The corner is next to Lakewood Elementary School and it’s a clearly marked school zone with posted speed limits of 40 km per hour.
Every school day Gary crosses about 30 children while 11 school buses deliver and pick up children at Lakewood Elementary School.
Plus all the cars that pick up and drop off individual children.
Gary believes that the Greenock and St. George Streets corner is one of the most dangerous in town during those times.
Lew McColl has lived at that corner for 47 years and agrees with Gary.
“I’ve been advocating for decades that we need a four-way flashing red light at this corner,” says Lew. “When Gary is here, drivers tend to behave but as soon as he’s not here, they do what they want.”
To Lew it looks as if parents are willing to run over other people’s kids to get their kid to school or pre-school on time.
Gary says he’s limited in what he can do about speeders. He does keep a notebook with the license plate numbers of the worst serial offenders.
“My contract says I can’t interfere with the flow of traffic,” Gary explains. “If I wave them over to talk, I’m on a fine line.”
He’s been told not to wave at drivers because it distracts them, but if it slows them down sometimes the risk is worth it.
He has taken to waving at drivers coming through the corner because when he waves, drivers are more likely to stop.
The 78-year-old was born and raised in Port Dover but left in 1961,
He still does electrical design work and is also passionate about building and flying rockets. Since it’s illegal to do in Norfolk County he does it in Haldimand County with the North American Propulsion and Aerospace Society – a rocket club.
Gary and his wife moved back to Port Dover four years ago.
He took the job as a crossing guard to get to know the community.
His first posting was at the Whitehorse Plaza in Simcoe.
“That was so busy,” says Gary. “I think there was an accident there at least once a week.”
In September he was delighted to take on the crossing guard job in Port Dover that is a five-minute e-bike ride from his home.
But he is shocked at how often drivers zoom through the stop sign – sometimes while he is crossing children.
He has been told that the County doesn’t have the money for larger stop signs or for a flashing red light.
He worries that one of these days a child will be hit by a car.
“Kids are a lot smarter than their parents,” says Gary. “They’ll walk their bike or e-scooter across the street. If drivers obeyed the rules it would be a lot safer.”