A Prince Rupert mother is questioning a rule prohibiting her from walking with a stroller on Charles Hays Secondary School’s track.
Liz Clarke, a mother of three, said she was walking with her stroller around the CHSS track, while her 11-year-old child was playing soccer, when she was approached by a person who told her she wasn’t allowed to do so.
Clarke had noticed the sign erected near the track that reads “no wheeled devices”, but thought it applied to wheeled recreational devices such as bicycles, skateboards and rollerblades, not devices “for people of limited mobility”.
“I would put a stroller in the category with a wheelchair, not a bicycle,” she said.
Clarke contacted the school district regarding the rule, and said she was told the issue is the weight of the devices.
“I either need to carry my two young ones onto the field or stay in the parking lot,” she said, adding the situation puts herself, and other parents, in an awkward place.
When contacted by The Northern View, School District 52 secretary-Treasurer Cam McIntyre said the rule has always been in place at the high school’s track.
“It’s been a long-standing policy in respect to that track. We follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, and they suggest not having any wheeled devices on the track,” he said.
“We want to ensure we have that track for the use of the students for a long time before we have to spend [a lot of] money again to refurbish it,” he said, adding a number of years ago the school district had to refurbish the track for approximately $.5 million.
Clarke acknowledges the reasoning, but doesn’t believe it’s practical.
“I understand the intention is preserving the track, but realistically this is a school field at a school so there are going to be siblings of younger age,” she said.
Clarke has been put between a rock and a hard place because she has not only the 11-year-old soccer player but also a two-year-old and an eight-month-old infant.
Parents and guardians of children in soccer are discouraged from dropping their kids off at the track to play. While many parents do, Clarke said she prefers to stay.
“Part of being active is being a good influence and setting a good example. Keeping [the younger children] separate from everything, or at home … is unfair,” she said.
McIntyre suggested parents of young children could bring them on the track in a baby backpack, or if they are old enough have them walk onto the track.
But Clarke said having her two youngest children out of the stroller has caused a list of other issues, like her eight-month-old putting objects he finds on the ground in his mouth, and her two-year-old running onto the field.
Additionally, the mother said walking around the track during her child’s soccer practice was also convenient for her.
“For all the reasons that anyone who doesn’t have kids in a stroller would want to use it is exactly why I would,” she said, adding in this day and age anyone who can do two things at once is satisfied.
Clarke said the track was an ideal location to get back into shape because of its flat surface, and lack of tripping hazards.
But McIntyre argues there are many alternative places parents can walk with their children in strollers in Prince Rupert, and said the CHSS track is not one of those places.
“I think it’s reasonable considering the cost and value of the track, and the need to protect and maintain it for a long time,” he said.
McIntyre said the track is meant for people to be running and walking on, not for wheeled devices to be utilized on. The only exception to the rule are wheelchairs, as it would be unfair to prohibit disabled individuals from being able to use it.
McIntyre said if there was also an exception for strollers it would be hard to enforce where the line is crossed.
Clarke argues that most strollers have rubber wheels, are lightweight and never airborne.
“I don’t think the rule was put in place maliciously, I just don’t think it was thought through,” she said.