For those interested in reading about what I spoke about when I presented in front of the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners back in November of 2015. I apologize if there is any spelling or grammatical errors in this piece, it was used as more of a guideline rather than a script. Enjoy!
To a lot of kids my age, going in front of a Board of this magnitude would be gut-wrenching. This opportunity, this chance to speak to all of you today is incredible. So with that, I’ll start off. I’d like to thank everyone here for this opportunity, especially the organizers of Speak Out Saskatoon. My name is Treyton Zary, and I am a student in Grade 11 at Aden Bowman Collegiate. It was last year while I was in grade 10 that my Vice Principal asked me if I wanted to go to this conference. My first question was “What is it?”; I had never heard of Speak Out Saskatoon nor would I realize how much it would open my eyes to what other people of my age experience around our amazing city. There were many topics that came up at Speak Out Saskatoon, quite a few which can be encompassed by one subject: Road Safety.
The first and arguably the most important, is how a good number of us feel when riding the bus. There was a number of incidents brought up where teenagers felt like they were in a dangerous situation while riding a bus downtown. Now, as I don’t take the bus frequently, I cannot speak from experience, but bus drivers are not prepared well enough to handle difficult situations. Collectively, we came to a solution: it would be nice to see patrol and beat officers ride the bus lines around the city more often, especially during peak hours such as after school or after work. Not only would people have a greater feeling of security, but it also helps increase public awareness and appreciation for police officers. Back in 2008, it was estimated that Saskatoon Transit carried approximately 11 million passengers, I can confidently say that increased police presence on the buses would alleviate a lot of fears youth have when riding the bus, especially in key areas of the city.
Next up is cyclist rights. As a regular driver, I only have a limited knowledge of the etiquette of regular cycling in our city. I know that they are to act like a motor vehicle, however it seems like most people do not know that. I have personally seen many cyclists weave in and out of traffic, transforming from a “motor vehicle” to a pedestrian in a matter of seconds. It would be extremely helpful if there was a push to advertise and clarify to experienced drivers and to the cyclist community of Saskatoon what is expected. Also, while talking about cyclists, I know I speak for a great part of Saskatoon when I say that a few extra bike lanes in other neighbourhoods would encourage people to use this alternative method of transportation and feel safer while riding their bike.
A number of teens at Speak Out Saskatoon spoke out about drivers in school zones. People will speed in school zones, and I know for a fact in the last two years that I’ve been at Aden Bowman there have been numerous Pedestrian/vehicle accidents. However, looking down the street towards Ecole Canadienne Francaise, I’ve noticed the incredible impact the Photo Radar has had in slowing down speeders. We believe by implementing more of these Photo Radars (even though they are expensive) that it will greatly impact the safety of all people in Saskatoon.
As police, I can only assume you deal with many parties involving underage drinking. SGI has an app called SGI Safe Ride, which as the title suggests, helps intoxicated people find a safe ride home. This is a great app that should be advertised more. Previously it was advertised, however I have not seen an advertisement for it in years. I know it cannot be marketed to promote underage drinking, but it should be put out there as an option.
One last thing. As the four of us came together a few weeks ago at the police station to start planning for this presentation today, I found it nearly impossible to find a parking spot! Now hold on, let me rephrase that statement… There were many parking spots available, just none that I could pay for with my lone method of payment, my debit card. I bring this up today as I know this applies to almost any teenager trying to get a parking spot downtown. In fact, it would be a huge improvement for everyone if the new parking meters could accept interac/debit card payments. A credit card isn’t always feasible for everyone, and some choose not to carry cash.
Speak Out Saskatoon was an incredible opportunity for young adults to (and forgive my pun here) “speak out”. We talked at great length about issues that we faced as the future leaders of this city, and we got answers to any questions we had. Between bus safety, cyclist rights, school zones and the SGI Safe Ride App, I’ve covered just the tip of the iceberg of what we discussed. I would personally like to thank all of the organizers of the Speak Out Saskatoon event, and for everyone here today for giving me the opportunity to speak.