Edmonton council gears down speed limit debate until 2020

The seemingly endless debate on lower speed limits across Edmonton has been parked once again as council switched gears on adopting a blanket 40 km/h on local, residential roads.

Council has debated lowering limit on local, residential roads to 30 km/h or 40 km/h

Edmonton council agreed to draft a bylaw for 30 km/h speed limit on residential and collector roads in core neighbourhoods. (CBC)

The seemingly endless debate on lowering speed limits across Edmonton has been parked once again as council switched gears on adopting a blanket 40 km/h limit on local, residential roads.

After several hours of debate Tuesday, council voted to draft fresh bylaws — essentially sending the issue back to the administrative drawing board.

Councillors are asking for a two-tiered approach: 40 km/h on local and collector residential roads city-wide; and 30 km/h on local and collector residential roads in core neighbourhoods.

Coun. Andrew Knack has favoured the lower limit since last year and put the motion on the table Tuesday, calling it an easy decision.

"Every time we have surveyed Edmontonians on this — every single time — a majority and a clear majority has shown the desire to have slower speeds on the roads within their communities," Knack said.

His motion didn't win unanimous support.

Coun. Aaron Paquette, right, plans to bring forward a motion this week at city hall which could pave the way for community compost projects. (Peter Evans/CBC)

Along with Mo Banga, Jon Dziadyk, Tony Caterina, Aaron Paquette and Mike Nickel, Coun. Sarah Hamilton voted against the 30 km/h option and poked fun at council's about-face.

"[That] was council making a decision that in January 2020, we will make a decision on the bylaw," Hamilton said. "But it's one step closer to the decision that we were told that we needed to finally make."

Hamilton said for consistency, she preferred rolling out 40 km/h across the city first.

At a meeting in March, council asked administration to report back with options to implement a 40 km/h speed limit.

Coun. Ben Henderson pointed out the city has consulted the public many times and done surveys "again, again and again."

"There is no doubt in my mind that the majority of people in my area support what is on the table here," Henderson said during the meeting. "I'm really, really keenly aware that we've been debating this I think since the previous council." 

Coun. Michael Walters supported the motion and echoed the need to make a decision.

"I think that this issue has been difficult for administration because council's been all over the map on it," Walters told city staff at the meeting.

"Hopefully at January 2020, we don't talk about it anymore after that. And that fundamentally we achieve that sort of traffic calming in the city of Edmonton, once and for all."

The push to go to 30 km/h in core neighbourhoods came from a group of citizens using the social media moniker #yegcorezone.

Several people spoke at an April 24 council meeting, urging councillors to create a 30 km/h zone from 118th Avenue in the north to 61st Avenue and Argyll Road to the south, and 142nd Street to the west, and 75th Street to the east.

Knack's motion also directed administration to review collector roads to see which function better at higher speeds and could be considered an exception to the 40 km/h rule. He gave 95th Avenue west of 149th Street as an example of a road that shouldn't have a reduced speed.

Aaron Paquette added to the motion, requesting a report outlining the resources required to implement roadway safety goals and traffic calming measures, such as speed bumps, improved crosswalks and narrower roads.

As part of that, council asked administration to include research done by Calgary Police Service and the University of Calgary, as well as from Edmonton's Vision Zero strategy.

The draft bylaws will go to a public hearing in January 2020 before council can approve the changes. 



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