Martyn Schmoll, a Safe Routes Advocates member, Braemar Elementary
principal Sandra Singh and District of North Vancouver Coun. Jordan Back
celebrate atop a new mural outside the school. photo Paul McGrath,
North Shore News
By Brent Richter, North Shore News
At Braemar Elementary, they get the big picture.
Specifically, a massive mural that now adorns the cul-de-sac outside the main entrance, welcoming students.
More than 100 Braemar students and parents turned out Saturday to help designer Rob Zylstra paint the street.
“It’s a way of symbolizing that this is a public space and that it
belongs to everyone, not just drivers,” Martyn Schmoll, a Braemar parent
and Safe Routes Advocates member who lobbied for the project.
Already, pick-ups and drop-offs in front of the school are illegal
under the district’s bylaw but the law is rarely observed, said
principal Sandra Singh, who likes to greet pupils and parents each
“There have been moments where my heart’s come to my throat and I’m
thinking, ‘This is not safe. This is not safe for the kids at our
school,’” she said. “I really want this space to be taken back by our
kids. I want this space utilized for something other than a turnaround
for parents to whiz through the cul-de-sac.”
During the last Bike to School Week – when the entire street was
closed off – there was an average of 85 bikes locked up outside each
day, about a fifth of the student population.
“It was just so amazing. Kids were popping wheelies off the curbs
and racing around and they were on skateboards and running around and
playing hopscotch,” Schmoll said. “Without exception, every parent was
asking, ‘Oh my god, we are we not doing this all the time? This is so
At first, District of North Vancouver staff were less than
accommodating of the school community’s requests for a mural, but
district Couns. Jordan Back and Mathew Bond won support for a motion in
July giving the project the go-ahead and making it easier for other
schools to do the same.
Now, like a person on a bike, Singh said she feels they’ve got
momentum and hopes the project can be scaled up and replicated around
the entire district.
“Not just during bike week. We want this to be part of our culture.
It’s the North Shore. If people could, I think they would,” she said.
“There are models used in Europe where you completely close down a
section of the road so children and parents and families can access that
space safely. So we need to create the space in order for the mindset
More than encouraging healthier, pollution-free commutes to school,
Singh said she feels the mural itself is representative of the Braemar
“It’s an open free space with that beautiful circle that signifies
unity and equality and the lines within it represented
interconnectedness. I see that representing the Braemar school community
– who we are and who we strive to be every single day,” she said.