Council will be debating a townwide speed limit reduction again at their monday meeting.
There are four different options on the table for council’s consideration, ranging from getting estimates for 40km/h signs, to launching public engagement, to ordering a consultant study for speed reductions and improvements to collision hotspots in town.
Coun. Yvonne Hamlin first pitched the idea to council at the end of May, hoping the town’s collector and local roads could be reduced to 40 km/h by ski season.
On June 21, the town’s director of engineering, public works, and environmental services, Peggy Slama, presented a memo with four options for pursuing a reduced speed limit.
Staff recommended council opt to hire a consultant to provide a comprehensive review of the Highway Traffic Act, the effectiveness of speed reductions, townwide speed studies, collision history, public engagement and costs.
Both Coun. Kathy Jeffery and Coun. Steve Berman want that option on the table for the June 28 council meeting discussions.
Coun. Tina Comi has already vocalized her opinion against more consultant reports on the matter, stating she’d rather just have a council vote on whether to reduce the speed on town roads to 40 km/h.
She tabled the option to “simply proceed” and have staff provide council with an estimate on how much the signage would cost to replace the 50 km/h signs with 40 km/h signs in 2022.
“At the end of the day, it’s just physics,” she said. “Those are the facts that you need, slower speeds increase chances for survival. We know other municipalities are doing it.”
Coun. Hamlin brought yet another option to the table for the June 28 discussion – have a public consultation and also hire a consultant to study the potential speed reductions and also look at collision hotspots in town.
Deputy Mayor Keith Hull said he’s generally supportive of a reduced speed limit in town, but he’s not convinced that’s enough to slow people down.
“I am very much in favour of moving forward because I agree … the science matters … but we want to be sure that we’re not creating something that is not enforceable,” he said. “I hope that when we’re going through this exercise that we make sure that we put some money behind what we’re saying so that the men and women who’ve got to actually enforce these policies have some teeth to be able to do so and at the same time, we make it as consistent as possible so that our residents will say, ‘you know what? I get it and I’m going to adhere to these policies and ... I know what the rules are and I can follow them.’”
CAO Sonya Skinner, whose career has included work with Ontario’s transportation ministry, said though the physics of pedestrian safety as it relates to speeding is clear, the psychology is a different matter.
“Speed limit is not a speed limiter on your vehicle. People still drive to the speed they feel comfortable with,” she said. “While I 100 per cent respect the intention of council to … just get on with it or do a study … I just wanted to say that there is a bit more to the science of speed limits. Should the speed limit be lowered, we need to convince people to adhere to that. Part of it would be enforcement and part of it would be community acceptance.”
To read the memo written by Slama in response to a potential speed limit reduction in town, click here.