Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Safety must wait for signs

Cutting speed limit at schools to cost $1M

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

On Wednesday, council's executive policy committee reviewed a report that calls for a policy to reduce the speed limit to 30 km/h in school zones on non-regional streets. The report said the policy should only be considered for elementary schools, where children are the most vulnerable.

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.

Sacher said the city needs to first build the signs in its sign shop, and put them up at schools that meet the criteria.

Transportation Association of Canada guidelines say there should be a minimum of two school signs, four speed limit signs and two supplementary signs for a school that fronts one city street. This would cost an estimated $1,500 per school.

"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 The city previously had reduced speed limits in school zones but repealed them in the 1960s when officials put the onus on drivers to slow down in areas where children are present.

The current limit is 50 km/h unless otherwise posted.

A city report released last week said there could be as many as 230 schools in Winnipeg with students from kindergarten to Grade 6 that could meet the criteria for a speed-reduction zone.

Sacher said Winnipeg's proposed policy would be in line with national guidelines.

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 details of the new regulations.

Mayor Sam Katz said the city might be able to 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.

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 5, 2012 A4

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