The City of Thompson could see lowered speed limits in school zones as early as September. The public safety committee, chaired by Deputy Mayor Dennis Fenske, will put forth a recommendation at an Aug. 13 regular meeting of council to lower speed limits in school zones.
Bill 3 (The Highway Traffic Amendment Act) is currently before the legislative assembly and would permit local governments to reduce speed limits in school zones within their respective communities. The provincial bill has not yet been finalized, but the committee anticipates that lower speed limits in school zones will be in place by the end of 2012.
Manitoba municipal highway speed limits are currently 50 km/h unless otherwise posted, as determined by the Highway Traffic Act. The recommendation that the public safety committee will be bringing forth is that the speed limit be reduced to 30 km/h in school zones.
“We are ultimately working to make it as safe as possible for our children to make their way to and from school,” said Fenske in a July 25 press release.
The process of lowering school zone speed limits began with three groups, consisting of city administration, the School District of Mystery Lake and the RCMP. The three groups were able to come to a recommendation to the public safety committee to lower speed limits in all school zones.
The front door address of each elementary school and R.D. Parker Collegiate will be the areas designated as school zones and signage will have to be purchased and put up once the by-law passes.
Money for new signs comes from the city’s budget and falls in the hands of public safety and public works.
There are still some details to work out with signage and putting the bylaw through, says Fenske, who feels that everything could be in place by the end of September.
“It is a bylaw so it has to be given three readings,” said Fenske, “because we only have one meeting in August it will only get first reading, and then second and third will be sometime in September. It (the bylaw) probably won’t be in place for the start of the school year but it would probably be in place by the end of September.”
The new speed limit should help to reduce not only risk to children, but also the number of complaints about traffic in school zones.
“We’ve had issues in the past with excessive speeds in school zones, as well as parking in non-designated areas and also congestion in the drop-off and pick-up areas,” said Fenske.
Last year, the public safety committee did some work in the Pintail and Spoonbill area near Westwood Elementary School, painting curbs in the designated zones as well as painting lines on the roads.
“Those were things that we could handle internally, but we couldn’t do anything about the speed because we were mandated by the province,” said Fenske.
First reading of the bylaw is expected to take place at the next regular meeting of council on Aug 13.