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Back-to-school shoppers swarm stores

Sep 04 2012
Wesley Oertel-Sproule stocks up on school supplies for grade 5 Monday at Staples. 

Wesley Oertel-Sproule stocks up on school supplies for grade 5 Monday at Staples.

Photograph by: Darren Stone , timescolonist.com

Shoppers swarmed Victoria stores on Monday, loading carts with binders, gel pens and other back-to-school supplies on the last day of summer vacation.

In the crowd at Staples were mother and daughter duo Christine and Cara Mackenzie, with an empty basket and a lot to do.

Cara starts Grade 10 this year and is one of about 35,000 Greater Victoria students heading back to school today.

"I'm excited to see my friends," said Cara, who is a student at Victoria High School.

Her school is special, she said. "It's full of art, there are cool designs. It's not just a plain building."

At the end of a lazy summer, however, Cara's enthusiasm only goes so far.

"I'm not excited for exams," she said, with a laugh.

Cara's family moved to Victoria from Vancouver about two years ago and her mother, Christine, said she'll miss her summer companion. "I am sad," she said. "She was good company during the summer."

As children head back to classes, police will be on the lookout for drivers breaking school-related traffic laws.

Police are stepping up traffic enforcement, something they do every year at this time, said Victoria police Staff Sgt. Tom Sawyer. "It's important to remind the general public that the kids will be back in school zones and crosswalks."

School zones have a speed limit of 30 km/h from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and speeding fines can range from $196 to $253. Other related traffic laws include stopping for school buses, yielding for pedestrians and obeying school guards or patrols. Failing to do these things can result in fines of $167.

For people who use buses, B.C. Transit has boosted service on heavily-used routes to cut down on crowding and reduce the likelihood of people being left at stops because buses are full.

B.C. Transit is adding 5,000 service hours to serve post-secondary students, including those at the University of Victoria and Camosun College. During the work week, transit will offer extra bus trips and overload buses will pick up passengers when regular buses reach capacity.

Routes getting additional service include No. 4 UVic-Hillside, No. 11 UVic-Tillicum, No. 14 Vic General-UVic, No. 21 Interurban, No. 25 Maplewood-Admirlas and No. 26 Dockyard-UVic.

The extra service hours are part of a plan to reinstate 7,000 hours that were cut last year by B.C. Transit.

"B.C. Transit has to be convenient and reliable," said Victoria Regional Transit Commission chairwoman Susan Brice, "and the restored service hours will make the system more attractive to frequent users."

cclancy@timescolonist.com

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