Blackfalds drivers will have to ease up on the gas around town.
Town council passed a major overhaul of its traffic bylaw Tuesday, which introduces a 40 km/h speed limit on most residential streets.
The new speed limit will take effect June 15.
“We want to make sure we’ve got time for education in our community,” said Mayor Richard Poole, adding the town also needs time to change the signs.
“There’s a number of steps we have to do before we’re actually moving forward with it.”
Town chief administrative officer Myron Thompson said they will be rolling out a communication strategy ahead of implementation. A compliance program is then expected to run until Aug. 15, with educational traffic stops and warnings handed out, rather than tickets at the peace officer’s discretion.
Reducing speed limits has been on council’s agenda for a number of years. A 2015 safety assessment of the town showed residents were in favour of a lower maximum speed.
The town’s policing committee took a look at the issue last fall and recommended reducing the speed to 40 km/h on most streets. The existing 30 km/h speed limit would remain in school and playground zones and higher speeds would be kept on major roads.
Another change to the bylaw involved 30 km/h school and playground zone speeds running from 7:30 a.m. to one hour after sunset. Previously, the lower speed started at 8:30 a.m.
“With that entire bylaw, I think we’re going to look at a community that is safer,” said Poole.
Statistics show that collisions at 40 km/h do less damage and cause less severe injuries, especially to pedestrians and cyclists, than at the 50 km/h residential speed limit that is standard in thousands of Canadian communities.
Other municipalities are also looking at reducing speed limits, including Edmonton, where a committee recommendation to go to 40 km/h will be debated next month.
Calgary council wrestled with this issue last fall and ended up voting 8-6 to lower the speed limit from 50 km/h to either 40 km/h or 30 km/h. Transportation staff are expected to bring a report back to council this spring with recommendations.