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Calgary committee approves speed reduction to 40 km/h

Calgary’s moving faster toward slowing city drivers down.

Councillors on the city’s transportation and transit committee approved administration recommendations to reduce the city’s unposted speed limit to 40 km/h.

Attempts to refer or change the proposed bylaw were all defeated.  The committee approved the first two points on admin’s recommendations, 7-3. The third point was lost on a tie. All of this still needs to be approved at a full meeting of council.

Council heard from administration on their recommendations and then public submissions.

“I feel that our recommendation is a bold step to changing how we build and operate our roadways to make life better for Calgarians every day,” said Tony Churchill, senior traffic safety engineer with the City of Calgary.

RELATED: Changing the speed limits actually allows Calgary to design roads differently

The proposal from administration also directs the posting of 50 km/h signs on the city’s existing collector roadways. They also want to work with industry partners to revise road standards to support 40 km/h on roadways and to support 30 km/h and apply in new communities or retrofit projects.

“At the end of the day, the goal is to improve safety for all Calgarians by reducing the speeds at which vehicles are operated in our neighborhoods,” Churchill said.

The signage changes will cost the city $2.3 million. This is already a part of the traffic safety budget, the city said.  

Public submission show favour for speed changes

The issue of collector roads came up during public submissions. The city’s proposal didn’t reduce the speeds on those roads. The idea that only residential roads had homes was false, one presenter said.

A resident of the southeast Calgary community of Sundance said there are hundreds of homes on collector roads. Their safety would also be impacted.

“This is needlessly making two classes of citizens. Those that have a residential home that’s not on a collector road, and those that have a residential home on a collector road,” he said.

Westgate resident, Asad Chaudhary, said neighbourhood speed was an issue of safety for his family.

“It’s important because the person being hit could be my three-year-old walking to the playground with his grandmother,” he said.

“Why shouldn’t kids, families and seniors be equally safe getting to and from the schools and playgrounds and why does it matter how far your house is from a playground?”

Council debates peripheral costs, travel impacts

Questions rose in council from Coun. Sean Chu over Calgary Police’s ability to enforce a city bylaw that wasn’t reflected in the province’s Traffic Safety Act (TSA).

Churchill said that they’ve consulted with their law team on this. The city charter grants them the opportunity to change the speed limit within city limits. Any tickets would be enforceable under the TSA.

Further questions from councillors arose on the impact to citizens vehicle travel and Calgary Transit travel times.

“We also anticipate small trip changes of less than a couple minutes, as you may have seen on our ETAtool, which estimates travel times this under various scenarios,” said Churchill.

Churchill also said that in consultation with Calgary Transit, there would be minimal impact on Calgary Transit travel times. This was reiterated by a Calgary Transit senior planner.

Coun. Jeromy Farkas said this wasn’t something that council should be concerned about at this time. With Calgarians out of work and struggling to make ends meet, city council should “go knock on doors” to see if this is a priority.

Several councillors chimed in and said that this was the number one issue at the doors during the last campaign. Street safety is regularly the top concern among residents at town halls, administration added.

“You know what, not everybody has announced their intention to run in the next election so most of us aren’t out campaigning right now. We’re actually doing the job we were elected to do,” said Coun. Jyoti Gondek.

“And mine is to speak up for my residents. So, I appreciate administration doing the work that was supposed to get done.”