Manitoba

Winnipeg charts road toward lower speed limits with new plan

Winnipeg is creating a road map to figure out which streets should have lower speed limits, a committee heard Tuesday.

City to create a process to handle requests for slower speeds, decide which limits to change

Winnipeg is developing a strategy that could see speed limits reduced in the city. (Meaghan Ketcheson/CBC)

The City of Winnipeg is creating a road map to figure out which streets should have lower speed limits, a committee heard Tuesday.

"I think it's important to have a process," said Coun. Matt Allard (St. Boniface), chair of the public works committee.

"This is an issue on the minds of a growing number of Winnipeggers."

The city's public service is creating a process that will both receive requests for lower speed limits and decide which limits should be reduced. The city says it will report back to the public works committee when the plan is complete.

David Patman, an engineer with the city, said it may include recommending a pilot project that would test reducing the 50 km/h default limit in one residential neighbourhood to 30 or 40 km/h.

The pilot would give the city a chance to learn how Winnipegers respond to lower limits and how to best educate the public on new road speeds, he said.

A road safety task force, made up of civil servants, has already identified six areas that could see safety improvements in 2019, Patman added. It's not clear yet whether any of those improvements involve reducing speed limits. 

Earlier this year, under Bill 14, the province of Manitoba gave municipalities the power to adjust speed limits without regulatory approval.

Most members of the committee — including Allard, Coun. Devi Sharma (Old Kildonan) and Coun. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) — supported the idea of waiting until the civil service completes its plan before making sweeping changes to speed limits in Winnipeg.

Coun. Vivian Santos (Point Douglas) was the only councilllor who voted against the delay. She says there is already enough evidence to show lower speed limits are required in Winnipeg, citing recent road deaths. 

Santos wants speed limits, unless otherwise posted, to be 40 km/h by default. 

"I think 40 is a happy medium," she said.

"I think that would be a good transition for Winnipeggers to go to that speed."

Allard, while appearing to support the notion of lower limits, said he worries Winnipeggers may not be entirely on board with the idea yet.

"We got to make sure to get it right. I think we're going to see more and more initiatives on traffic safety and we're going to have to see some results on speeds," he said.

Several delegates spoke in favour of lower speed limits Tuesday during the committee meeting. All mentioned the importance of lower speed limits to reduce the number of road fatalities and injuries, and to encourage healthier transportation by enhancing the experience for pedestrians and cyclists.

The public service expects its new speed limit plan to be finished by the fall.

About the Author

Laura Glowacki is a reporter based in Ottawa and Winnipeg. Previously, she worked as an associate producer for CBC's Metro Morning in Toronto. Find her on Twitter @glowackiCBC and reach her by email at laura.glowacki@cbc.ca.

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