Regina school zone speed reduction proposal delayed until 2018

Parents hoping for cars to slow down in Regina's school zones will have to wait a little longer.

Playground zones could also see a speed limit reduction, mayor says

Regina committee members found examples of 30 km/h school zones in Edmonton, Calgary and Saskatoon. (Lydia Neufeld/CBC)

Parents hoping for cars to slow down in Regina's school zones will have to wait a little longer.

In April 2016, Regina city council passed a motion to strike a committee that would consider increased safety measures for school zones. It ended up recommending that the speed limit in school zones be reduced to 30 kilometres per hour.

According to the committee's research, pedestrians were found to be more likely to survive being hit by a vehicle travelling 30 km/h versus one travelling 40 km/h.

However, before speed limits can be reduced, the committee, made up of civic traffic staff, school board representatives and members of the Regina Police Service, must be restructured, according to a report brought forth at a meeting at City Hall on Wednesday.

Its full suite of recommendations — previously expected this spring — won't be released until well into 2018.

That means, depending on what the recommendations are, the city may not be able to implement them by the time school starts next fall.

More expertise needed, says mayor

Members of the original committee felt they needed more expertise in order to make final recommendations, Mayor Michael Fougere told reporters.

"They felt, as they go forward, they cannot talk about the budget implications or the engineering design."

When asked why the required experts weren't part of the original committee, the mayor replied: "It's not straightforward."

"In order to make sure that we get it done right, they're asking to bring in more people to make those decisions."

He added: "We want to get it done right, and get it done right the first time."

Regina Mayor Michael Fougere is in favour of reducing the speed limit in school zones to 30 kilometres per hour. (Trent Peppler/CBC)

The new committee will pick up where the old committee left off, according to Karen Gasmo, the city's executive director of transportation.

It will consider factors such as public interest, engineering, policing and how changes might be implemented.

The original committee was a "broad" committee, Gasmo said.

"It didn't have necessarily the right members that were in place to focus on what we can manage from a city's perspective."

She said, this time around, the committee will be taking an approach "focused on achieving outcomes."

Playground zones in the works

Regina is behind other western Canadian cities when it comes to reducing the speed limit in school zones to 30 km/h.

Saskatoon and Edmonton both have the lower limit in school zones. Edmonton implemented its 30 km/h speed limit in elementary school zones around three years ago. Saskatoon changed its speed limit in school zones in 2003.

Edmonton recently voted in favour of extending the lower limit to playground zones — a move that Regina may also mimic, said Fougere.

Mixed feelings

While the proposed reduction in speed limit received support among city council members, one Regina resident doesn't share the enthusiasm.

Linda Paul said she has driven in Edmonton's 30 km/h school zones.

"It's hell," she said.

"It's just about impossible to drive that speed," she continued, noting that she feels a lower speed limit might be dangerous because drivers will be focused on maintaining their speed rather than focusing on the road and "looking around for kids."

Ticketing drivers who don't observe the current speed limit should be sufficient, she said.

Regina resident Linda Paul says the current speed limit of 40 kilometres per hour in school zones is sufficient. (Mike Zartler/CBC News)

Other residents welcome the proposed reduction.

"They've proven that it's safer for people," Sherilyn Moore said.

However, Moore said she hoped that the city would consider adjusting the hours speed limits are in effect to reflect times when children would be out on the roads.

"I just don't see that we're really protecting young children at 10 o'clock at night," she said. 

Regina resident Sherilyn Moore feels that reducing the speed limit in school zones is a good idea, but she would like to see an adjustment to the hours reduced speed limits are in effect. (Mike Zartler/CBC News)

with files from Stephanie Taylor