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City seeking support for lower speed limit

Nov 18 2012

Victoria is looking for support from other B.C. municipalities to make the default speed limit on municipal roads 40 kilometres an hour instead of 50.

The city will take resolutions to lobby the province to reduce the residential speed limit to both the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities and the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

Victoria Coun. Shellie Gud-geon suggested the change during a discussion last week about the possibility of lowering the speed limit on a stretch of Cook Street between Bay Street and Pandora Avenue.

Councillors hear concerns about speeding in every neighbourhood, Gudgeon said, noting that the speed limits on some streets are not consistent.

"I know, for example, on Craigflower Road there's only a two-or three-block section in the City of Victoria where it's 50.

Then it goes to 40 in the Esquimalt portion. Then it goes up to 50 and then reduced to 30," she said.

Gudgeon suggested that Victoria reduce the speed limit to 40 km/h across the city, with the exception of major arterial roads such as Blanshard.

"Oak Bay is primarily 40. Esquimalt is primarily 40. Why are we at 50 when we are a community of neighbourhoods?" she asked.

Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard said sending the idea to AVICC and UBCM, local and provincial umbrella groups representing municipalities, to gauge support makes sense as any move to lower the limit has be regional in nature.

"My understanding is these things are a provincial standard so that motorists don't have to learn new rules when they move from municipality to municipality," Leonard said.

But Brad Delebur, the city's acting assistant director of transportation, said that while there is a growing movement to make 40 km/h the default municipal speed limit, "there hasn't been a whole lot of traction, provincially, for doing that."

The logistics are such that it would have to be a provincial initiative, Delebur said. Otherwise, it would fall to municipalities to make motorists aware of their individual rules.

"You'd have to physically put up a sign for every block of the city. You'd have to create a bylaw for each block in the city," Delebur said. "Administratively and practically, it's just not possible at this point to do it in a fundamentally simple way."

Alan Perry, vice-chairman of the Capital Regional District Traffic Safety Commission, said the idea would have to be thoroughly studied.

"The concern we would have is - no matter how well-intentioned it might be - is it practicable and is it enforceable?" Perry said.

Other jurisdictions are already moving in that direction. After running a pilot program in six neighbourhoods in 2010, Edmonton adopted a policy of considering 40 km/h limits in residential neighbourhoods. bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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