BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN
A pickup truck passes the yellow school crossing sign on 18th Street in front of Earl Oxford School.
Reduced school-zone speed limits in Brandon most likely won’t come into effect until next year, according to the Brandon Police Service.
"It’s not an automatic process," BPS Staff Sgt. Larry Yanick said. "It’s going to be a lengthy process before anyone sees any reduction of speed in school zones."
Amendments to the Highway Traffic Act now provide local governments with the authority to set lower speed limits in school zones, Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton announced last week.
"All families want their children to be safe while crossing streets as they travel to and from school," Ashton said in a press release. "The new regulations will permit local governments to establish lower speeds in school zones to ensure greater safety for children in their communities."
All municipalities, including local government districts, First Nations and community councils, now have the legal ability to set the maximum speed limits as low as 30 km/h in school zones where the regularly posted speed is less than 80 km/h.
Maximum speed limits as low as 50 km/h in school zones can also be set where the regularly posted speed is 80 km/h or higher. Designating specific dates and hours when reduced speed limits are in effect or setting the limits to be in effect at all times will also be part of the implementation process.
Reduced speed zones are limited to streets and highways within school property and the designated zone must be within 150 metres of that property’s boundary.
"In some cases, schools have a relatively small amount of frontage and we need to see what can be effectively done in terms of enforcement," city engineer Ted Snure said.
"Typically the schools that have full blocks around them or those that have schools that are sitting on major collector roadways, would certainly be schools that we’d be looking at."
The city is currently waiting for the province to release more details surrounding the amendments, while the BPS assesses the appropriate locations to impose reduced speed limits, he said.
"They’re the ones who actually have to go out there and do the enforcement, then we would work with them … once the areas are identified, ensuring appropriate signs are installed to give motorists warning."
To ensure drivers are aware of lowered speed zones, signs will be required to stand within 100 metres and not more than 250 metres before the zone begins and must identify the beginning of the reduced speed school zone, including maximum speed. Signs must also be reflective so they show the same colour and shape in both night and day.
"It has to be researched, it has to be studied ... then recommendations have to be made to city council," Yanick said. "It’s a lengthy process."
Once the recommendations have been finalized, city council must also pass a bylaw detailing the list of schools that will have reduced speed zones, what roads and what portions will have a reduced speed, and a description of that reduced maximum speed as well as the hours the speed limit is in effect.
Bylaw amendments typically require two city council meetings, so it could take up to a month just for it to clear the council process, he said.
"In all likelihood it probably won’t happen through the winter months," he said. "We certainly want to advance it as soon as we can, so if we have something in the ground this spring, that would be fine."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 24, 2013