It will likely be mid-July before there are any changes to speed limits throughout downtown Whitehorse.
At Whitehorse city council’s May 17 meeting, members were presented with a bylaw proposing a 40 km/hr speed limit throughout the downtown with the exception of school zones that would remain in place at 30 km/hr.
The speed limit is currently set at 50 km/hr through most of the downtown, except where there are school zones.
The bylaw that came forward is a change from the original plan that would have seen speed limits reduced to 30 km/hr on all downtown streets with the exception of Second and Fourth avenues where the speed limit would be reduced to 40 km/hr.
Under the territory’s Motor Vehicles Act, speed limit signs need to be placed in all locations where the speed limit has changed, delaying implementation.
“This would require the installation of 78 new regulatory speed signs, with the majority requiring new posts,” said Taylor Eshpeter, the city’s engineering manager, going on to present the recommendation for a blanket 40 km/hr speed limit throughout the neighbourhood.
“From an implementation perspective, it is also more practical, enforceable and feasible than other options at this time. This option provides a more uniform and easily understood new speed limit that can be communicated with limited signage and it is a practical speed that may reflect current speeds on most north-south downtown streets.”
He pointed out moving forward with the 40 km/hr limit would not limit a further reduction in the future, if there is public interest.
Along with streets in the main part of downtown, Robert Service Way from Fourth to Second Avenue would also see a speed reduction to 40 km/hr as part of the changes.
Questioned by Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu about enforcement, Eshpeter confirmed RCMP are aware of the proposed changes.
“It’s certainly on their radar,” he said, noting the work of the RCMP to focus on areas where there are a higher number of speeding infractions, such as the downtown.
He said he could not comment on whether RCMP would first issue warnings or simply move ahead with ticketing those going above the new speed limit if adopted.
Council will vote May 25 on whether to move forward with the bylaw along with a proposed budget change to allocate $6,500 to install speed limit signs and come up with a communications and education campaign to ensure residents are aware of the changes.
A total of $5,000 would go to signage with the remainder — $1,500 — identified for the communications campaign.
Answering questions posed by Coun. Steve Roddick, Eshpeter said there’s not yet a set plan for communications, though it’s anticipated there would be updates to the city’s website, among other measures.
The $1,500 “gives us some options,” Eshpeter said.
Roddick said he’d like to see more details on the communications plan when it is done.
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