Motorists will have to slow down while traveling through Lacombe’s downtown core on Hwy. 12 during the day after a motion passed by City council on Sept. 9.
In an effort to make Lacombe’s downtown core safer for pedestrians, Lacombe City council has voted to change the speed limit on Hwy. 12 from 53 St. to Hwy. 2A to 30 km/h between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. from Monday to Friday.
The standard speed of 50 km/h would still apply outside those days and times.
This change will come into effect on Dec. 1 and be reviewed after one year.
Councillor Reuben Konnik, who brought the Notice of Motion to council on Aug. 26, said that he is not sure if his idea will achieve its goal of making downtown any safer, but he is more than willing to give it a shot.
“Let’s try it for a year, if I’m wrong, I’m wrong and we can adjust it,” said Konnik.
His motion, which passed by a vote of 5-2 on Monday, actually went against the recommendation of City administration, which suggested following the Transportation Association of Canada’s guidelines.
That would have meant leaving the speed limit at 50 km/h and removing 17 parking stalls along Hwy. 12.
Director of Infrastructure Matthew Goudi said that pedestrian safety in the downtown core has been an issue since at least 2002 and it has been looked at many ways, but said lowering the speed limit was not the solution.
“The lowering of the speed limit is not justified,” said Goudi. He also admitted that the removal of so many parking stalls downtown would have a detrimental effect to downtown businesses and said that council is welcome to look at other solutions to diminish that effect.
“It’s certainly council’s prerogative to look at a balance between engineering standards and downtown viability,” said Goudi.
Konnik said those negative effects felt from the downtown business community, of which he is a member, would be huge and that was not what he had in mind when he brought forth the Notice of Motion in an attempt to improve safety.
“My intent for this from the get-go was to make the downtown core safer,” said Konnik.
“My intent was never, ever to, in any way, shape or form, harm the downtown business community.”
Konnik also said he appreciated the work done by engineers and respected the numbers they provided but added he didn’t think they understood the ramifications the recommended action would have on the downtown business community, of which he is a member.
However, some councillors did not agree that changing the speed limit would solve the problem.
Councillor Ian Foster, who voted against Konnik’s motion, said that changing the speed limit would cause problems for drivers.
“It just seems to me that this is going to frustrate the heck out of everybody,” said Foster. He added that council should put more stock in the numbers provided to them by administration.
“I have to believe these statistics that (Goudi) is giving us,” said Foster. “This isn’t just in Alberta, this is across Canada, so why are we going against the grain?”
Foster asked that the vote on the motion be recorded.
The vote then passed 5-2, with Councillors Foster and Outi Kite being opposed.