(Quebec) Jacinthe Latulippe remembers this morning five years ago to the day. The little house in Lotbinière was full of children getting ready to leave for school. It was just before spring break, with the excitement of the upcoming holiday in the air.
It was a morning like any other, a morning where everything jostles. The mother of the family remembers that her daughter Anaïs was preparing her lunch. The little one left in a gust of wind with her sister, on foot. Jacinthe Latulippe barely had time to say goodbye to Anaïs. She never saw her alive again.
The 11-year-old girl was fatally struck that morning in Saint-Flavien, on the South Shore, in the Quebec region. Anaïs was walking in the heart of the village with her sister on a wide shoulder intended for pedestrians, but eaten away by snow in winter. The driver swerved onto the shoulder and killed the girl.
“Even today, when I see children, parents with pushchairs walking there, my heart aches. Almost nothing has changed, ”says the mother in an interview.
Five years after the death of her daughter, Jacinthe Latulippe has decided to speak out once again because she feels powerless, abandoned by politicians, by her municipality and by the government of Quebec. But she still believes things have to change.
Coroner Géhane Kamel, who investigated Anaïs’ death, wrote it in black and white in her March 2020 report: a sidewalk must be built in the heart of the village of Saint-Flavien, where the school is located. , to save lives.
But after a long fight, Jacinthe Latulippe realizes that there will be no sidewalks in Saint-Flavien. The Ministry of Transport and Sustainable Mobility does not want to build it, even if Principale Street, where Anaïs died, is a numbered road under its jurisdiction. The state returns the ball to the municipality.
Saint-Flavien, rather than respecting the coroner’s recommendation, chose to submit the question to a referendum in September 2021. The majority refused the sidewalk and the bill that came with it. According to calculations by the municipality, it would have cost $88 per year per property, for 25 years, to pay off the loan.
“A sidewalk shouldn’t be a luxury. We must stop seeing these accidents as unfortunate incidents. It is avoidable. We need a better layout, ”implores the mother, who was appalled by the result of the referendum.
It was hard for us to recover from that. It was demotivating. I was disillusioned. I had a flat affect for several months.
Jacinthe Latulippe, about the result of the referendum
She’s starting a petition
If Anaïs’ mother talks to The Press today, it is that she hopes for the help of the public to force the government “to take its responsibilities”. She thinks that the Ministry of Transport should systematically build sidewalks in the urbanized sectors of its numbered roads, which is not currently the case.
Jacinthe Latulippe is launching a petition today with Piétons Québec and Accès transports viables, entitled “For the right of children to walk safely”.
“It’s annoying,” said the director general of Piétons Québec, Sandrine Cabana-Degani, on the phone, alluding to this tragedy and the response of the authorities.
What we see in this whole story is that the Department of Transport has to assume its responsibilities. It is not normal that he leaves the municipalities the choice of whether or not to build a sidewalk on the main streets which are in fact Ministry roads.
Sandrine Cabana-Degani, General Manager of Piétons Québec
She notes that Quebec is not reluctant to widen its roads at the request of municipalities to accommodate more cars. But when these same municipalities ask for sidewalks on the same roads, Quebec refuses to pay.
” It is not normal. It’s two weights, two measures, ”denounces the general manager of Piétons Québec.
“The Ministère des Transports du Québec has changed its name. It is now called the Ministry of Transport and Sustainable Mobility, she said. It has adopted a sustainable mobility policy in which it undertakes to take into account the needs of pedestrians and cyclists in urban areas. We ask that he move from words to deeds. »
The death of little Mariia Legenkovska on the way to school in Montreal in December has revived painful memories in the family of Anaïs Renaud.
“We knew that another family was going to go through the same path as us. It’s absurd as a death, it doesn’t make sense, ”says Jacinthe Latulippe.
Then a mobilization of hundreds of parents across Quebec was organized for the safety of pedestrians around schools. It gave him some hope after five years of “disappointment”.
Another nationwide protest is planned outside schools on March 15. Jacinthe Latulippe plans to be there. She plans to demonstrate in front of the primary school in Saint-Flavien. The one where her daughter went five years ago. The one that still doesn’t have a sidewalk.