British Columbia

6-year-old Delta girl's petition prompts city to consider new crosswalk

Arianne Dieleman is proving you're never too young to enact change at city hall.

'I wanted the street to be safer,' said Arianne Dieleman about section of Central Avenue

Arianne Dieleman presented a petition to the City of Delta to explore creating a crosswalk for a busy road where she says her brother was almost hit by a vehicle. (Carmelle Dieleman)

Arianne Dieleman is proving you're never too young to enact change at city hall.

The six-year-old successfully petitioned the City of Delta to explore creating a crosswalk along a busy road, after delivering a petition of 30 signatures to city council last week. 

"I wanted the street to be safer, and I was worried that people might wait until somebody gets hit," Arianne told CBC News. 

Arianne, who wasn't previously politically active, regularly crosses Central Avenue at the end of the pathway at Lions Park on her way to and from school. 

Most days, it's a relatively peaceful walk with her grandma and three siblings, but there's a curve in the road that can make it difficult to see oncoming traffic. 

"My brother Wesley was on his bike … and almost got hit," said Arianne. 

"He wasn't really scared because he's pretty brave, but it scared me a lot."

Arianne asked her grandma what could be done to create a crosswalk. She suggested a petition.   

Arianne is hoping for a crosswalk at this space along Central Avenue. (Google Street View)

'Dear town council'

"She started going to people in the park that afternoon asking them to sign it," said Carmelle Dieleman, Arianne's mother.

"There were a lot of people who also had stories of almost getting hit on the corner … so there were a lot of people that supported it, not just because she came up to them, but because they believed in it."

Arianne's handwritten letter beseeched "town council" to build the crosswalk and included a diagram for council's benefit. 

After receiving the petition in October, staff told council before its Nov. 9 meeting that its engineering department would create a crosswalk assessment. Their findings will be referred to a technical committee for review. 

Arianne is sanguine about the pace of local government — saying she didn't expect city hall to move so quickly — but understands the crosswalk still might not happen.

"[I'd be] a little sad, but I'm still happy that I worked and tried my best."

The bottom of Arianne's correspondence to Delta council included a diagram (not drawn to scale) of the area of Central Avenue she is requesting upgrades for. (City of Delta)

'Streets for people first'

Delta Coun. Dylan Kruger is optimistic that a crosswalk can get built — and soon.

"We had a traditional mindset in our community, and in communities all over Metro Vancouver, where we were creating streets for cars," he said. 

"And I think this is part of the increasing trend to create streets for people first."

Kruger said given the timeline of Arianne's campaign, it was possible that a new crosswalk could be included in next year's capital budget. 

"It's a tough year for all local governments right now, balancing fiscal restraints and improvements to the community. But I'm certainly going to be bringing this up."

As for Arianne? She says crosswalk or not, the experience has motivated her to push for more change. 

And she's grateful council is treating her petition like it would anyone else's.

"I was pretty happy and thankful."

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