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School zone speed limits could take years to implement

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It could take Winnipeg five years to reduce speed limits around city elementary schools.

This morning, council's executive policy committee reviewed a report which called for a policy to reduce the speed limit to 30 kilometres per hour in school zones on non-regional streets. The report said the policy should only be considered for schools with Grade 6 or lower.

Public works director Brad Sacher said city officials estimate it will cost $200,000 a year over five years to build and erect new signage and convert the school zones to 30 km/h. He told council's executive policy committee the change will take time with the department's existing resources.

"It's quite an undertaking to roll this out," Sacher said, noting it could be done faster if the city had more money and manpower to make and install signs.

Winnipeg is the only large city in Western Canada that does not have a reduced speed limit in school zones. The current limit is 50 kilometres per hour unless otherwise posted.

A city report released last week said there could be as many as 230 schools in Winnipeg where students from kindergarten to Grade 6 attend. The city had to ask the province for permission to reduce the speed limit in school zones, as the Highway Traffic Act regulates the limits.

Mayor Sam Katz said regardless of how fast the process moves, the city still needs to wait for the province to allow the city to reduce speed limits in school zones.

Recently, the province passed legislation that gives local authorities the power to create reduced-speed zones for schools. Sacher said the city still needs to see the details of the new regulations.

Katz said the city can possibly add more resources to speed up the process.

"The changes are starting, and this is a change that's been brought forward by city council," Katz said.

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