Whistler Secondary gets new safety fence along highway 

Barrier already vandalized near popular shortcut path

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It is hoped that a new fence along the Sea to Sky highway, near Whistler Secondary School, will stop students from crossing the busy road where no controlled intersection exists.

But just days after the fence was installed vandals had already cut a large hole in it — a hole big enough for a person to pass through.

"It is frustrating," said Jesse Morwood, area manager for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure based in Squamish.

"We installed something for safety and here it is someone can't be bothered walking a few hundred metres to the intersection to cross. It is frustrating."

The fence was put up after months of discussions between the ministry and Whistler RCMP, which was concerned at the danger students faced as they run across the road to either get to school, go home or shop at the local Alpine Meadows Market at the corner of Alpine Way and Highway 99.

"We've been talking over the last few months about funding, and trying to prioritize and getting it done and we got it up a month ago," said Morwood of the $9,266 fence.

The chainlink safety fence will be monitored, said Morwood, and repairs will be carried out as needed. It will not be removed.

"The Ministry installed the fence to deter students from running across the highway and encouraging them to use the signalized intersection at Alpine Way," he said. "The goal being to improve safety for students and all highway users.

"Often with a new product or installation we put it in and we have to monitor how it works, so this is the first time that a hole has been put in it. If it keeps happening and is causing us a maintenance issue then we are going to have to look at how to make it more of a deterrent to vandalize it.

"I think it is important to keep it up, so right now we are going to monitor it and fix it as needed. But if it becomes more of a hassle then we will have to look at something else."

The Sea to Sky school district's director of facilities and services, Rick Hume, said the board was not directly consulted about the fence but that the safety of students crossing the highway away from the controlled area has been of concern for years.

Each year the school discusses crossing the highway safely with students.

"I had hoped and thought that education would have worked better," said Hume.

"The fence, now it is going to be someone's maintenance issue forever."

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