Manitoba

Business manager offers city free flashing lights for school zones

The manager of a Winnipeg electrical company has offered to install solar-powered flashing lights on school zone signs to help drivers know when to slow down — at no cost to the city.

Chuck Lewis of Expert Electric would install, maintain solar-powered lights for at least 10 years

Expert Electric is willing to install and manage solar-powered flashing lights in Winnipeg school zones for a decade, its general manager says. (Brett Purdy/CBC)

The manager of a Winnipeg electrical company has offered to install solar-powered flashing lights on school zone signs to help drivers know when to slow down — at no cost to the city.

"We've travelled quite a bit through Canada and every time we go to different cities, I've always noticed that almost every school zone has flashing amber lights," said Chuck Lewis, general manager of Expert Electric in Winnipeg. 

Lewis originally took the idea to the city in 2017, and even built 20 light fixtures in anticipation of the city adopting the idea, but the city turned him down, he said. 

Now his idea has found a champion in city Coun. Kevin Klein (Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood), who put forward a motion on the proposal at the city's community committee.

The committee voted to approve the request at a meeting Tuesday night, Klein said. He asked that a report be done on the project and presented to the property, planning and development committee this September.

"I want to keep this top of mind" until then, Klein said, adding he would have preferred the lights were installed before students go back to school this fall. "It's a wonderful opportunity for the city."

The motion calls for Lewis to purchase the exact number of lights to cover all school zones in the city. Lewis has offered to maintain the lights, with Expert Electric covering the costs for at least 10 years. 

The proposal comes as the city examines ways to reduce speed limits on certain streets throughout the city. 

"Road safety is a growing concern in our community," Klein said in a news release. "Council is studying speed options to reduce the risks. If the intent is truly about safety and not a cash grab, as some refer to it, then this is a perfect opportunity to partner with our taxpayers."

The lights would be set on timers, turning on in the morning when kids are heading to school and turning off in the evening after they go home. Lewis estimates the total cost to him would be about $5,000.

"What's the cost of a life, like, whether it's five grand, 10 grand, 20 grand? One person's life is worth that in a minute," said Lewis. 

Even though he thinks he's offering a good deal, Lewis said he's skeptical the city will take him up on his offer.

"A lot of money is made in the school zones giving out tickets," he said. "Once you start putting the flashing beacons, it's going to slow down the ticket intake from revenue, so I just don't see that."

About the Author

Cameron MacLean

Web Writer

Cameron MacLean is a journalist living in Winnipeg, Man. where he was born and raised. He has more than a decade of experience covering news in the city and across the province, working in print, radio, television and online.

With files from Bryce Hoye

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