Nanaimo city council is interested in finding out more information about a provincial pilot program to lower speed limits on residential streets to 40 kilometres per hour.
Councillors, at a meeting Monday, voted unanimously in favour of Coun. Don Bonner’s motion to have city staff look into the pilot program – which city staff said isn’t yet in place – and report back on options.
Council’s understanding of the program, based on their discussions Monday, is that the 40km/h speed limit would be in effect only on roads that don’t have a centre line.
Coun. Sheryl Armstrong said her research on the subject shows that 40km/h speed limits result in “significant” safety improvements and she said it won’t impact bus schedules and courier businesses.
“If you actually go through our city, we don’t have a lot of unlined streets where it’s actually going to impact anybody,” she said.
She said she’s been driving at that speed in recent months and said it feels safer.
“In neighbourhoods, that’s where you’re going to see the kids rush out in front of cars,” said Armstrong.
Coun. Zeni Maartman also supported the motion for safety reasons, noting that council receives a lot of e-mails about a lack of sidewalks and problem areas with speeding drivers.
“Looking [at] this from a pedestrian lens from the streets, making it safer from age eight to age 80, anything we can do that makes it safer for active transportation and everybody just to slow down a little bit in life, I think it’s a good thing,” she said.
Coun. Tyler Brown said he looks forward to staff’s report on what he called a great initiative.
“I wish the pilot was for 30, but I won’t let perfect stand in the way of progress,” he said.
Coun. Jim Turley had some concerns that having “unposted, different speed limits” around the city would be confusing for residents and Coun. Ian Thorpe said he wants more information about what the program would entail, where it would apply and what signage would be required. Armstrong wondered how much the necessary signs would cost.
“You’re not giving the green light to participate tonight, you’re asking for staff to report back on options should a pilot project become available,” said Sheila Gurrie, the city’s director of legislative services.
Speed limits are currently 50km/h unless otherwise posted.
Earlier this summer the District of Saanich’s mayor said capital-region municipalities were interested in participating in a pilot project to reduce speed limits to 40km/h on residential roads.