Saskatoon city committee votes against lowering speed limits in residential areas

The Dutch government is lowering the top speed limit on highways in a bid to put the brakes on emissions. (File photo/CTV)

A City committee has voted against lowering speed limits in residential neighbourhoods.

This decision means the recommendation from city administration to lower speed limits city wide in residential neighbourhoods is off the table following a review of residential speed limits in Saskatoon.

On Tuesday, the city’s transportation committee voted 4-2 against the move, with councillors citing concerns about data, costs, enforcement and the potential impact to transit.

“One is the cost. And some unknown costs that were still facing as well as we talked about with Transit. This is going to result in another burden on the tax payer” David Kirton, city councillor said.

Administration said the cost to change signage is estimated to be between $400,000 and $600,000.

Saskatoon transit reiterated lowering speed limits along residential and collector streets would have an affect on service. It said more analysis would be needed to find out how large the impact would be.

Kirton also expressed concerns about enforcement.

“Police officers whom I’ve talked to in both Saskatoon and Edmonton have told me that 40km/h speed limits on residential roads and even on collectors would be unenforceable.”

Councillor Hilary Gough supported lowering speed limits noting it would lead to people feeling safer.

“We are all bad at judging how fast a car is driving. What we are not wrong about is whether we feel safe. And that’s actually what were hearing from people in our neighbourhood traffic reviews.”

City administration recommended lowering speed limits noting, collision data and traffic safety best practices show that lower speeds on residential streets will reduce the number of crashes and the seriousness of traffic-related injuries and deaths.

"Specifically, a 40 km/h speed limit is recommended because it will improve traffic safety resulting in less severe injuries and fatalities," a city report said.

Through its public engagement process, the city surveyed 14,970 people online in a survey open to all residents of Saskatoon, according to the city’s website. Another 414 people were invited to complete a third-party telephone or online survey with the goal of gathering representation from all age groups and areas of the city, according to the city.

Sixty-five percent of open survey respondents prefer the speed limit to stay the same on all streets, whereas about half (52 percent) of third-party survey respondents prefer a speed limit lower than 50km/h on local streets.

Councillor Zach Jefferies wanted to know whether city administration considered doing a pilot project first, before fully implementing lower speed limits.

Administration said implementing lower speed limits would be more difficult in some specific neighbourhoods, rather than doing it citywide.

The committee did vote in favor of Councillor Kirton’s motion for administration to report back on the costs and feasibility of a speed watch program.