Westmount studying truck side-guards, backs Jessica Campaign
By Laureen Sweeney
Westmount has taken the initiative to explore the retrofit of larger municipal trucks with side guards. The skirting helps prevent pedestrians and cyclists from slipping between the wheels. The announcement was made at the February 2 council meeting when the council endorsed a petition coming from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities urging Transport Canada to implement national safety standards for side-guards along the lines of those in Europe and the UK. Westmount the first in Quebec “We’re the first in Quebec to do this,” announced Councillor Cynthia Lulham in moving the resolution. At the same time, she said council had asked the city staff to look into retrofitting its current larger trucks with the devices. City director general Duncan Campbell later said, “We’re going to be looking at our fleet to see what can be modified.” The real impetus, he added, will come from the federal and provincial governments.
The Westmount resolution came one day before three seniors were hit and killed by snow removal trucks in Montreal, but it stemmed from a death in Westmount on December 19, 2005 at Strathcona and Sherbrooke. That’s when 21-year-old Jessica Holman-Price lost her own life falling under the wheels of a turning snow removal truck while pushing her younger brother out of harm’s way. She was posthumously awarded Canada’s Medal of Bravery.
The Jessica Campaign mounted by her mother, Jeannette Holman-Price, has taken up the cause of improving truck safety, including the mandatory use of the side guards. St. John’s, Newfoundland, where Jeannette now lives, was the first city in Canada to support the campaign and others are now adopting similar resolutions. A letter to Prime Minister Harper can also be signed at www.thejessicacampaign.com. Westmount will be sending its resolution to other local municipalities.