In a vote of 13-0, Edmonton city council decided to approve playground speed limits of 30 km/h. Playgrounds now join other zones across the city, like elementary and junior high schools, where the speed limit is reduced.
“I’m feeling great,” Councillor Bev Esslinger said after the decision. She co-sponsored the motion with Scott McKeen. “I was excited to see 13-0 on playground speed limits.”
“I’m surprised that it seemed to change some people’s mind. But maybe it’s a sober second thought or hearing the discussion… I’m very pleased that people saw the need to have playground zones and I think it’s going to be a benefit to all children in Edmonton.”
The item was at last week’s community services committee. When it appeared it would lose on a tie, it was sent to Tuesday’s meeting so all of city council could have a say.
“We’re really just taking school zone speed limits and applying it to other areas where there are playgrounds,” Esslinger said Monday, “then coordinating those two together so you have a uniform speed limit for any area where kids are sort of known to be playing. It makes sense to me.”
The city’s branch manager of parks and roads said there will be about 420 zones put in place right away.
“We’ve set out a game plan to try to get everything done by the end of the year and that’s the target we’re working towards,” Gord Cebryk said.
“As we mentioned in the presentation, the first locations that will have the installations will be the stand-alone playgrounds. Then, once we complete those, we’ll move onto the ones that have existing school zones that we would convert to playground zones.”
The report to council recommended replacing all school zones with playground zones city-wide and expanding the hours the speed limit is in effect to 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The 425 playground sites include 178 stand-alone playgrounds, 195 playgrounds adjacent to schools, 36 playgrounds that are already included within existing school zones and 16 new schools that opened September 2017.
Cebryk was asked if the next speed limit change would be reducing all residential streets from 50 km/h to 40 km/h.
“What we’re waiting for is the direction from the province in terms of what the opportunities will be for municipalities to define the default speed limit,” he said. “We’re hoping that we get some answers this fall but there’s a long process there as well.”
— With files from Emily Mertz, Global News