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Metro Vancouver mayors divided on 24/7 school zone, playground speed limits

Last Updated Jul 9, 2020 at 2:38 pm PST

FILE - A school zone speed limit sign in Vancouver. (Kurtis Doering, NEWS 1130)
Summary

School zone speed limits are now in effect 24-7 in Vancouver but don't expect other municipalities to follow the move

Some mayors say their municipalities are looking at similar projects, while others say speed limits aren't a focus yet

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — It doesn’t seem like all municipalities will be following in the footsteps of Vancouver implementing playground and school zone speed limits around the clock.

The approval for some trial runs around Vancouver came Wednesday, reducing speed limit in school and playground zones to 30 km/h 24/7. But some mayors of other Metro Vancouver municipalities aren’t making the same move, yet.


North Vancouver City Mayor Linda Buchanon calls the idea fantastic and says that city was already discussing a similar pilot project for one school zone that could be implemented by the end of the year.

“In fact this has been a discussion at UBCM (Union of B.C. Municipalities) for many, many years. I’d say the urban municipalities have been pushing the province, and certainly Minister (of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire) Trevena to make this a change in the Motor Vehicle Act so it’s not cost-prohibitive for municipalities to do this.”

She says she would like to see a consistent speed limit across municipalities.


“If we can make it something that is just standard in people’s minds, that around schools, around playgrounds, and within particular neighbourhoods where schools are, it’s a consistent 30, then people will abide by that,” she says. “But when they shift from 30 into 50, then back into 30, I think people get complacent with that and tend to go at a higher speed.”

The push for the province to bring in a province-wide speed limit is a selling point for other municipalities since it means B.C. would be paying for things like new signage, rather than individual cities footing the bill. Municipalities do have the power, though, to lower speed limits.

Not a topic on every council table

That being said, Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley isn’t ruling out the 30 km/h speed limit.


“I do think we need to re-look at what speed limits are and how that can affect public safety,” he says.

“It is being looked at, but I can’t say where it will finish off at this time.”

Hurley expects council to take a closer look at 24/7 school zones in the fall.

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart says traffic safety is a big issue, but the city isn’t considering the same kind of school zone speed limits as Vancouver.

“The after-hour realities of a school zone don’t, at least anecdotally to me, don’t appear to be our issue,” he says.

Richmond’s mayor offered a similar sentiment, saying the city hasn’t discussed a speed reduction approach around school and playgrounds.

“Our approach in the city of Richmond is more general,” Malcolm Brodie says. “If we feel that an area of the city needs more traffic measures, whether it’s speed humps, raised crosswalks, traffic circles, or reductions in speeds, then we’ll do it for a particular area or particular corridor.”

“I’m not sure why you would, as a blanket policy, reduce these speed zones around schools and playgrounds at night and early in the morning,” Brodie adds, pointing to areas like Steveston, where the speed has been reduced and other traffic measures were introduced.

Meanwhile, the District of North Vancouver isn’t specifically looking at the same sort of change to speed limits either, says Mayor Mike Little, but improving safety along school routes is on the table.

“We have been focused on improving safe routes to and from our schools, making sure sidewalks are where people will use them and crossings are safe and able to be seen at a distance away,” he explains.

The speed limit in B.C. municipalities is 50 km/h unless otherwise posted.

-With files from Lasia Kretzel