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City of Powell River staff to examine limiting speeds in the municipality

Councillors call for staff report to look into traffic matters
STUDY PLANNED: City staff will issue a report on speeds on Powell River streets. The intention would be for speed limits to remain the same on arterial streets, such as Marine Avenue, but looking at reducing speed limits on side streets.

City of Powell River will examine speeds on roads within city limits.

At the May 18 committee of the whole meeting, mayor Dave Formosa said speeding, and neighbourhoods complaining about speeds, has been part of council’s agenda.

“We hear a lot about it and we try very hard to accommodate,” said Formosa. “So do the RCMP, given their limitations.” Formosa said when an RCMP member is away, the force is short that member until they return, so resources can get stretched.

“We on council have talked many times about wanting to slow down the speeds off of the main roads; in other words, the side roads,” said Formosa. “In order for us to do that, given the laws of the land, we have to go buy signs for every side street and by the time we bought those signs and installed them, wow, that’s a lot of money and a lot of work.”

Formosa said he read about a pilot project where the province is doing pilots in communities where speeds can be reduced on side roads.

“I was wondering if we could have another look, and then ask the chief administrative officer [Russell Brewer] if he’s heard about this particular pilot, or the fact that maybe we do not have to put signs on every street, posting 30 kilometres per hour,” said Formosa.

Nelson used as example

Brewer said he reached out to the ministry of transportation and infrastructure and there is no mechanism in place yet for doing a pilot with respect to speeds. He said the ministry is working toward putting together a pilot project related to speed later this fall. Brewer said the ministry spokesperson indicated the enabling legislation is already in place in the Motor Vehicle Act to put in place reduced speeds providing a bylaw is put in place.

“He pointed to Nelson as an example of a municipality that has municipal-wide speed reductions to 40 kilometres per hour,” said Brewer. “How they dealt with the signage was at a couple of key entry points and with a good communication and awareness strategy in place. Folks know the speed limit is 40 kilometres per hour. It wouldn’t require signing all of the streets.”

Formosa said in Powell River’s case, he thinks the discussion is around all side streets. Main arterial routes, such as Joyce and Marine avenues, would remain the same, he added.

“If that was the desire to create a bylaw, maybe we could get away with it in that regard,” said Formosa. “I’m just putting it out there for us to discuss because it’s a lot of the phone calls that many of us, I’m sure, get.”

Councillor Jim Palm said it’s not so much the speed that is dictated, it’s the enforcement.

Councillor Cindy Elliott said she is in favour of asking for a report to look at options for lower speed limits in the city. She said perhaps the city can do a blanket lowering of speed limits except where posted and post the main thoroughfares. She said she’d like to see the options for lowering and still being able to travel at a reasonable pace.

Discussion is timely, says councillor

Councillor CaroleAnn Leishman said the discussion is timely because it was the United Nations global road safety week, which is pushing for 30 kilometres per hour speed limits around the world.

“I also get bombarded with people asking us to lower the speed limits across the community,” said Leishman. “I would like to see a report come back. If we did create our own bylaw we probably could leave our arterial roads as 50 kilometres per hour and we could do a blanket 40 kilometres per hour across the rest of the community. I would be absolutely in favour of lowering speed limits across the community except on arterial corridors.”

Councillor Maggie Hathaway said she’s kind of a miles per hour kind of person and when she thinks of 30 kilometres per hour, it sounds good until it’s converted to 18 miles an hour.

“People aren’t going to go that speed,” said Hathaway. “You can put the signs up, and there will be a lot of people who do it, but there’s lots of people who won’t. They drive what is comfortable.

“You could put radar out there and stop people and give them tickets and they will slow down for a few weeks because it costs them money, but they speed up again. I agree with having some controlled speed but 18 miles per hour is a little too slow.”

Enforcement lacks staffing

Hathaway said there is not enough staffing to enforce speed limits the city puts up.

“Putting a lot of time, effort and money into it, it’s all for naught,” said Hathaway.

Councillor and committee chair George Doubt said he sees people driving way too fast in the 50 kilometres per hour zone by his residence.

“Sometimes it upsets me; it upsets other people in the neighbourhood,” said Doubt. “30 kilometres per hour is maybe too slow. That’s maybe why Nelson came up with limiting speed limits in their community to be 40 kilometres per hour. We all think it needs to be looked at and I wonder if we have unanimous approval to instruct staff to bring back a report on limiting speed limits in the community.”

Council gave consent for a staff report on limiting speeds in the municipality.