At a regular meeting on Oct. 27th, Lacombe City council voted to continue the 30 km/h speed limit on 50 Ave. downtown and furthermore to expand the 30 km/h zone west to 54 St.
Last fall, Councillor Reuben Konnik brought forward a notice of motion to have the speed limit on 50 Ave. (Main St./Nanton Ave.) reduced to 30 km/h between Hwy. 2A and 53 St. between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. from Monday to Friday in an effort to increase pedestrian safety downtown.
At that time, the motion was passed with the 30 km/h to be reviewed after one year.
At the meeting this week, Director of Infrastructure Matthew Goudy said the 30 km/h had been effective in controlling pedestrian/vehicle interactions downtown.
He added the reasoning for the proposed expansion of the 30 km/h zone was in order to accommodate the Lacombe Outreach School, located at the 54 St. and 50 Ave. intersection and that it would align with the pedestrian crossing light slated to be installed at the 53 St. and 50 Ave. intersection next year.
Konnik said he agreed with administration’s assessment that the 30 km/h zone had been successful.
“I can visibly see that people are going slower,” said Konnik.
He added that most people are still traveling over the 30 km/h limit, between 35 and 40 km/h, but it is still an improvement.
“That’s still immeasurably slower and safer than it was before,” said Konnik. He went on to say that while he had heard both support and opposition to the slower speed limit, the vast majority of the reaction he heard was supportive.
Councillor Grant Harder said the public responses he had heard were quite the opposite. He added the 50 km/h speed limit near the golf course is another point of contention within the community that he often hears about.
“I don’t think we are totally united,” said Harder. “I think that there are a lot (more) people that are dissatisfied with the 30 kilometre zone and a 50 kilometre than we are recognizing. I don’t recall having a single conversation with one citizen that said, ‘That’s fantastic, I’m glad you lowered the speed limit to 30’.”
There was some discussion regarding the extension of the zone to accommodate the Lacombe Outreach School, with some of the councillors wondering why that area was not already a 30 km/h school zone.
Goudy said that school zones are a recommendation and not a requirement by provincial law. He added a school zone for the Lacombe Outreach School had simply not been considered before.
Mayor Steve Christie said he was more in favour of extending the zone 30 km/h zone on 50 Ave. than having a school zone implemented in that area anyway, as the Lacombe Outreach School building is leased and has the potential to move when that lease is up. Christie also said that extending the zone might make the need for pedestrian crossing lights at 53 St. and 50 Ave. redundant.
“It’s an ‘either/or’ type of thing,” said Christie.
“I definitely would favour extending the speed zone because if they happen to move out and find another location . . . to spend the money on the crossing lights and have them move one or two or three years later is a little difficult for me.”
Konnik made the motion to continue with the 30 km/h speed zone and expand the zone to west to 54 St.
When asked to accept a friendly amendment to have the speed limit reviewed again after another year, he declined.
“We tried it for a year, its working, I think.”
Konnik’s motion passed 6-1 with Harder voting against.