Recommendation to change school speed limits in Kitchener pushed to next week

By Kitchener CityNews Staff

A report came to Kitchener city councillors on Monday that suggested changing speed limits in school zones to a static and consistent speed limit of either 30km/h or 40km/h, which aligns with Waterloo regional council’s decision earlier this month.

It recommends school zones in major community collectors and city arterial streets, like Westheights Drive and Franklin Street, have speed limits increased to 40km/h. Other local and minor neighbourhood streets would stay the same at 30km/hr.

The move would make speed limits more “consistent and static” and in line with bylaws put in by the cities of Cambridge and Waterloo.

The report came following feedback from residents saying school zone bylaws were not consistent with the city and the region when it came to the time of day and year.

The cost for changing the speed signs from 30km/h to 40km/h would be $5,000.

Council had approved a reduction in speed limits from 50km/h to 40km/h in 2021. Staff was directed to reduce speed in school zones in those areas to 30km/h.

Approximately 90 per cent of all school zones in Kitchener have a speed limit of 30km/h, with the remaining 10 per cent to be completed by the end of the year.

Kitchener City Council heard from the Manager of Transportation Safety & Policy, Aaron McCrimmon-Jones on Monday.

“Transportation services continues to recommend a static and consistent speed limit for all school zones whether 30km/h or 40km/h in an effort to develop consistent driving behaviors prevent confusion and prioritize the safety of residents of all ages who utilize school properties throughout the year and outside of regular school hours,” said McCrimmon-Jones.

“The majority of neighborhoods and school zones within the city has now been reduced to these lower static speed limits,” added McCrimmon-Jones.

The current speed limit in Kitchener is 30km/h in school zones on most city streets except for on larger, regional roads where the speed limit is 40km/h no matter what time of day it is.

Earlier this month, regional council voted in favor of lowering speed limits in school zones on regional roads to a consistent 40km/h from previous roads that were marked as 50km/h or 60km/h roads.

Mayor Berry Vrbanovic put forward a different amendment to council to change all school zones to a constant 30km/h to improve safety during the committee meeting. Councillor Christine Michaud agreed with Kitchener’s mayor’s idea.

“I feel like the conversations just going in circles. I agree with Mayor Berry Vrbanovic with the 30 km/h right across, that offers the continuity with speed that we are looking for and the habit forming, so you’re not in different school zones going 40 here and 30 there and we know that 40 goes to 50 in a second,” said Michaud.

After more debate from council about school zone speed limit changes, Mayor Berry Vrbanovic put up a deferral for the amendment and staff recommendation until next week.

“We need to get some more information and so I can’t support the amendment or the staff recommendation as it exists before us right now,” said Vrbanovic.

Kitchener city council voted in favor of the deferral and will discuss the speed limit changes next Monday.

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