YORKTON - In December 2021 Yorkton Council had a long discussion about changing speed limits and times of enforcement in school zones.
But, in the end several changes in terms of school and playground safety zones were approved – most notably that all designated school and play zones, with the exception of the Gladstone North High School zone, be assigned a reduced speed limit of 30 km/hr. and further, that the reduced speed zones be in effect 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
The proposed changes came about as part of a substantial review to establish a consistent standard for School and Play Zones across the City so that children and families have safe access to School and Play Zones in the community.
It was noted in December there is no federal or provincial legislation to establish speed zones, therefore School and Park Zones fall under the municipality’s jurisdiction.
As was discussed at the Dec. 6 Council Meeting, the reason that Administration is proposing to reduce the speed from 40 km/hr to 30 km/hr in Elementary and Play Zones is because of the vehicle stopping distance and the survival rates for pedestrians when struck, explained Nicole Baptist – Bylaw & Safety Supervisor, with the City at Monday’s regular meeting of Council.
The data suggests;
*When struck by vehicle going 30 km/hr – pedestrian survival rate = 90 per cent
*When struck by vehicle going 40 km/hr – pedestrian survival rate = 70-75 per cent
*When struck by vehicle going 45 km/hr – pedestrian survival rate = 50 per cent
At the Dec. 6 Council Meeting, Council also discussed the times that zones are in effect at length and ultimately arrived at the decision that Elementary and Play Zones should be in effect for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“As you may recall, the main reasons for the recommendation is to provide continuity and it’s also easier to communicate and remember,” said Baptist.
“During the Play and School Review, Administration consulted with the RCMP and they were also supportive of the zones being in effect for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The RCMP noted it would also be another tool available for RCMP to assist them when dealing with other issues in the community as well.”
As was mentioned at the Dec. 6 Council Meeting, zone times are important for Park Zones because the City keeps the lights on in the parks until 10:30 pm, so it would be ideal for the zone to (at minimum) cover the times that the lights are on to get kids home safe, continued Baptist.
When the changes came before Council Monday for second and third reading, again the debate was significant, began by five written submissions from the public which were read into the record by City Clerk Jessica Matsalla.
“Thirty kilometres an hour is excessively slow,” wrote Mike Stackhouse.
“In addition, what are we teaching our kids? We keep trying to remove hazards from their life. Hazards should be a part of life. 40km/hr is not a speed that is excessive and I see a lot of the school zones policed quite well. The compliance level by Yorkton people in these school zones, based on what I've seen...is quite high.”
Retired RCMP member Pat Rawlick wrote that after some research “I feel that the speed zones for the parks, and all schools should be reduced to 30KM, and that these speed zones should be in effect from 8am‐8pm as they are now.”
Richard Winters offered that he not opposed to a lower speed limit, but was opposed to it being 24 hours.
While the letter writers offered varying views Councillors too had varied ideas in terms of timeframes and high school speed limits.
It was finally Councillor Chris Wyatt who offered up an amendment which managed to attain support from all but Coun. Dustin Brears.
Wyatt moved that the 30 kilometre speed limit be approved except in front of the two high schools, which will stay at 40 kilometres an hour. It was this variance that Brears sat opposed too.
Mayor Mitch Hippsley liked the lower speed limit.
“I do believe 30 kilometres in the way to go,” he said, adding people tend to push speed limits so having a lower legal limit was a good thing.
Wyatt also kept the speed limits being in place 365 days a year, but only from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.