They stand guard in Ottawa’s intersections every morning and every afternoon when the school bells ring. They are out there in 35-below temperatures, rain, snow, dust, and heat. They risk putting themselves in danger and deal with aggressive motorists. They are the Adult Crossing Guards of the City of Ottawa!
A common misconception exists among the public that the Crossing Guards, with their orange vests and stop signs, are merely concerned volunteers that help the students out once in a while. Did you know that the Adult Crossing Guard program in Ottawa is funded by the City, managed and administered by the Ottawa Safety Council and that municipalities are legislated by the Province to have Crossing Guards as part of the Highway Traffic Act? A motorist not heeding a Guard’s stop sign could find themselves with a hefty fine (between $150 and $500) and lose three demerit points.
Crossing Guards are integral to the safety of our communities for several important reasons:
- Often younger children have not fully developed the proper skills and judgment to negotiate busy traffic safely.
- Children can be impulsive and make risky decisions.
- School Zones are very busy places with lots of pedestrians, buses coming and going, parents dropping or picking their children up.
- Motorists today are distracted (i.e., texting while driving), impatient, speeding and are generally in a rush.
Is there an Adult Crossing Guard in my neighborhood?
There are currently Guards stationed at over 175 intersections across the City of Ottawa at both the morning and afternoon bell times. Guards are in place 30 minutes before the bell times in the morning and 30 minutes after the bell times in the afternoons. To see all of the Crossing Guards in your neighbourhood see our interactive Google map below.
I think there is an intersection that should have a Crossing Guard – what do I do?
The City of Ottawa determines which intersections in Ottawa warrant a Crossing Guard and the Ottawa Safety Council then hires, trains equips and manages the Crossing Guards for these intersections!
Parents, school faculty, and concerned citizens often approach us about having a Guard placed at an intersection. We encourage all of these suggestions to be sent to the City via 311.ca.
The City collects a list of these suggested intersections throughout the year, until a cut-off date of March 31st. Over the months of April, May & June they conduct different studies at the intersections on their lists (I.e., speed studies, stopping compliance studies, hazards) as well as pedestrian counts. The City then looks at all relevant data and determines a score for the intersection. If the intersection meets the warranting score – it gets a Crossing Guard – and that is where the Ottawa Safety Council comes into play!
Suggested intersections and any supporting data can be sent directly to email@example.com.
How do I become a Crossing Guard?
Get Involved in your Community!
All of our Adult Crossing Guards are required to provide us with a clean Police Record Check for Vulnerable Sectors and three character references. All Adult Crossing Guards undergo a thorough Screening Interview to determine their suitability for the position as well.
The Adult Crossing Guards undergo in-depth classroom training that covers safe crossing practices, proper positioning & techniques, and important safety precautions, as well as Provincially-mandated training such as Bill 168- Violence and Harassment in the Workplace & Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities. Finally, new Crossing Guards are paired up with experienced Guards in order to shadow them until they are comfortable taking on their intersection on their own.
Team Leads regularly visit Guards at their locations to perform site inspections, pedestrian counts, and performance evaluations.
If you are interested in becoming an Adult Crossing Guard please visit Careers page.
How do I thank my Guard?
The Adult Crossing Guards don’t have a creed, but they do face some unpleasant environmental conditions in the course of their duties: snow, rain, heat, hail, strong winds, lightning storms and aggressive motorists.
No matter the weather, they are always on duty and ever vigilant to ensure their charges make the journey from curb to curb without incident. Your thanks and appreciation, as well as the knowledge of providing such a valuable community service, are what keep our guards coming back year after year.
If you have a positive story to share about your crossing guard or words of thanks to express your appreciation, please send them to us and we will share your words so that your children’s crossing guard can bask in the acknowledgment they so deserve.
Marie Armstrong Crossing Guard Award
The Marie Armstrong Award (formerly known as Ottawa’s Favorite Crossing Guard Award) is presented yearly the Crossing Guard who shows high levels of excellence and dedication to the important role of keeping our community’s children safe.
The cash prize is generously donated by Marie Armstrong’s family – to honour her memory. Here is what Marie’s family has to say about her:
“Marie Armstrong, was born in a fishing village known as Avondale, Newfoundland, in 1932. At the age of 18, Marie left for Montreal with her new husband. After a few years in the city, she moved to Dollard des Ormeaux in the West Island.
Marie had 6 children, the youngest of which was 20 years younger than the eldest. When her youngest child, Maria, went to first grade at Ecole Dollard des Ormeaux, she saw a crossing guard for the first time. Thinking it would be great to help out, as she was going back and forth to school with Maria daily, she inquired as to how she might volunteer. After registering at the local police station, Marie began her career as a crossing guard. Under the impression that it was a volunteer position, she failed to pick up paychecks for months! While thrilled by the news, she could not believe that she was actually getting paid for something she felt very happy to do.
Over the next 12 years as a crossing guard, she got to know all of the children and their parents well. She knew who needed a hug and who was at risk. She cared deeply for their little souls and never missed a day for fear that some child might need her. Marie, who was affectionately known as “granny” to her 10 grandchildren, and “GG” to her 4 great-grandchildren, never said an unkind word about anybody in her life and was always looking out for children, whether hers or not. We, as her family, are delighted to honour her memory by lending her name to this award.” – James Miller (Marie’s Grandson)
The Marie Armstrong Crossing Guard Award 2014-15 Winner
Freida Fong, ACG for Maple Ridge Public School. Pictured here with Deputy Mayor Mark Taylor and Maple Ridge Vice Principal Natalie Makara.