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Municipalities can now lower speed limits in school zones

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Under the amendments municipalities, local government districts, First Nations and community councils now have the ability to set maximum speeds near schools.

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Under the amendments municipalities, local government districts, First Nations and community councils now have the ability to set maximum speeds near schools.

Municipalities now have the power to set lower speed limits in school zones, Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton said today.

The amendments to the Highway Traffic Act giving local governments that authority were passed last week before the extended spring sitting of the legislature ended on Friday.

Under the amendments municipalities, local government districts, First Nations and community councils now have the ability to set maximum speeds as low as 30 km/h in school zones where the regularly posted speed is less than 80 km/h.

They can also set maximum speeds as low as 50 km/h in school zones where the regularly posted speed is 80 km/h or above, and designate specific dates and hours when reduced speed limits are in effect or set the limits to be in effect at all times.

The province says reduced-speed school zones are limited to streets and highways that abut the school property and the designated zone must be within 150 metres of the boundary of that property.

Any local government that wishes to reduce the speed limit in its school zones must pass a bylaw that provides the detail required in the new Reduced-Speed School Zone Regulation.

Ashton also said the regulations include provisions for the type, size and position of appropriate notifications and signage erected to inform drivers.

By law signs must be reflective so they show the same colour and shape by night as by day and not less than 100 metres and not more than 250 m before the zone begins. Signs warning drivers of the lower speed limits will also be required at intersections on the roadways in the zones.

Ashton said these specific requirements for signage will help to ensure drivers can easily recognize they are approaching or are within a reduced-speed school zone.

Meanwhile, MLAs also passed a bill to give police and emergency responders a new tool to help protect them and the public from dangerous properties, Justice Minister Andrew Swan said today.

The changes, which came into effect Sept. 15, create a new offence under the Fortified Buildings Act for anyone who sets a trap on a property. Traps targeted by this legislation are intended to cause serious injury or death and are triggered by the presence or movement of a person. They are often used to protect illegal operations like marijuana grow-ops.

The new regulations also define other types of fortifications which are prohibited under the act such as razor or barbed wire, certain door and window barriers and dangerous obstacles.

Offenders convicted of offences under the provisions face a fine of up to $25,000, up to six months in jail or both. Corporations face a fine of up to $50,000.

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