City hall is finally acting on a promise to lower speed limits surrounding most grade schools across Winnipeg.
A bylaw has been prepared that would reduce speed limits on residential streets in school zones to 30 kilometres per hour from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., September to June, effective for the start of the 2014-15 school year.
The new bylaw would apply only to schools with Grade 6 or lower, said Brad Sacher, the city's director of public works.
Council approved the principles supporting lowered speed limits around elementary schools in July 2012 and set aside $1 million for signage. However, before Winnipeg could implement the change, the city had to wait for the province to amend legislation -- which it did in September 2013 -- giving municipalities the authority to lower the speed limits around schools to 30 km/h.
Mayor Sam Katz promised to have the bylaw in place before the end of 2013, but Sacher said writing the bylaw was a complex procedure that included identifying every school and street that will be affected.
Sacher said the reduced speed would not apply to regional streets adjacent to a school but could be applied to nearby residential streets.
"We're asking for those guiding principles to be set into policy and to have the bylaw enacted so it can be enforceable and legal speed zones that we are creating," Sacher said.
The enabling legislation requires the bylaw to be amended in the future, Sacher said, if school divisions change the grade alignment of schools, either removing or introducing Grade 6.
Sacher said the bylaw would not apply to a regional street adjacent to a school where speed limits are 60 km/h or higher, because of the potential for collisions with vehicles slowing down for schools.
"Regional streets are typically higher speed, multi-lane, and you actually increase the risk of rear-end collisions, side-swipes and loss of control -- the last thing you would want happening adjacent to a school or on any roadway," Sacher said.
The reduced speed limits would be enforced by the Winnipeg Police Service, Sacher said, adding how they do it will be up to them. The city has identified the streets adjacent to 171 private and public schools that would be affected.
The proposal will be presented to Tuesday's meeting of the public works committee for endorsement. The committee's recommendation will be forwarded to executive policy committee and likely to city council for its June 25 meeting.