As traffic volumes steadily increase within the City of Brandon, reducing speed limits in school zones is a way to help keep students safe, says division chair Mark Sefton.
“Any time you have the mixture of young children, excitement and traffic, there’s always a potential safety concern,” Sefton said. “We haven’t got a whole raft of incidents or anything like that, but sometimes it’s better to take a proactive course of action rather than wait till something happens.”
Last night, Brandon City Council approved changes to its traffic bylaw to allow for reduced-speed school zones beginning in the fall.
Drivers will have to slow down to 30 km/h in residential school areas starting this September between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Provincial law gives the city the power to make such bylaws and municipalities can decide when speed reductions are in effect.
The decision comes after months of ongoing meetings between the city, school division and Brandon Police Service.
“We’ve all talked about this and studied it,” Sefton said. “We really believe that this is a small thing that we can do that will mean that children going to school will be safer.”
Police Chief Ian Grant answered questions on the recommendation at Monday’s meeting.
“We felt as a community that it was best for the safety of all of our youth” to reduce the speed limit at all schools, both elementary and high school.
The reduced-speed school zones will apply to 20 schools in the city. There are a few exceptions — the intersection of 18th Street and Victoria Avenue near Earl Oxford Middle School, as well as Victoria Avenue East near King George School.
The city will have to follow strict provincial law when it comes to the number of signs posted outside of schools. In order to abide by law, between six and eight signs will have to be placed in the zones and as many as 16 on divided roads.
Some councillors have already voiced their concern about sign overkill, and don’t want a repeat of what happened with the “Share the Road” cycling signage on Lorne Avenue last summer.
“There’s going to be a whole lot of signage going up,” Sefton said. “While people may find those signs to be distasteful, again, if it’s increasing safety, I’d take a sign over having a potential problem.”
Reduced-speed school zones are also being considered by the City of Winnipeg. Members of Winnipeg’s public works committee unanimously voted Tuesday in support of the new bylaw, which will lower speed limits around some schools with Grade 6 or lower down to 30 km/h.
Winnipeg’s civic administration has completed a complex bylaw identifying 171 schools where the speeds will be lowered. The bylaw will likely be presented to Winnipeg council for approval at the end of the month.
» firstname.lastname@example.org, with files from the Winnipeg Free Press
» Twitter: @jillianaustin