Ottawa

Street hockey pilot wins fans in Gatineau

Street hockey is poised to become a lot more prevalent in Gatineau, Que., with a local public health advisory committee recommending more than 1,500 streets in the city be opened for play. 

Council could vote to allow game on any street with 40 km/h limit

A street hockey pilot has been running in Gatineau, Que., since last February, allowing games on 50 roads and dead-ends with speed limits under 40 km/h. City council will soon consider expanding the project to include all streets under that limit. (Radio-Canada)

Street hockey is poised to become a lot more prevalent in Gatineau, Que., with a local public health advisory committee recommending more than 1,500 streets in the city be opened for play. 

On Thursday, Gatineau, Ville en santé recommended to city council that it drastically expand last year's pilot project, which covered 50 streets. 

In February 2020, council approved the pilot for a year, which permitted the game on 50 roads and dead-end streets with speed limits under 40 km/h. 

At the time, 471 residents asked the city for their street to be one of the 50 chosen. In the end, there were 20 selected in the Gatineau sector, 13 in Hull, 11 in Aylmer, four in Masson-Angers and two in Buckingham. 

2 options presented

In its recommendation to the City, the advisory committee presented two options for opening up more streets. 

Option one would allow games on all of the roughly 1,600 streets that meet the safety requirements.

Each street would need to be reviewed before games would be allowed there. There would be no additional street signage, but there would be an aggressive citywide awareness campaign.

The second option suggests approving up to 25 new streets each year, depending on demand, and placing signage on each new street.

In this scenario, it could take 60 years to cover off all eligible streets. 

The committee advised council to choose option one, projected to cost $148,200, as the second could cost almost double because of the additional signage and human resources required.

"The impacts of the pilot project on neighborhood life have been generally positive, and a strong majority of citizens surveyed agree the city should continue the project and increase the number of streets where free play is allowed," the committee's report reads in French. 

Renée Amyot, councillor for Limbour, said drivers should expect to meet young people on nearly all streets with a speed limit of 40 km/h. (Radio-Canada)

Renée Amyot, councillor for Limbour and president of the advisory committee, said if city council supports approving more streets, drivers should expect to encounter young people on nearly any road with a speed limit of 40 km/h. 

While the Quebec Highway Safety Code forbids playing hockey in the street, Amyot said the city has the authority to normalize it. 

The next council meeting is Sept. 28. If council supports the recommendation, a new bylaw will come into effect in March or April 2022.

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