Councillors request changes to Edmonton playground zones but postpone decision

The final school zones are converted to playground zones in Edmonton, Wednesday, April 4, 2018. Cliff Harris, Global News

During a meeting at city hall on Tuesday, Edmonton councillors drafted a motion to redefine playground zones to apply “only where playground equipment is present.” At a previous city council meeting on Nov. 14, 2017, a “playground” was defined as anywhere children may be playing.

If passed, that change alone would impact about 25 current playground zones.

The rest of Tuesday’s debate, however, was postponed to the next council meeting.

READ MORE: Report says 40 Edmonton playground zones could be removed 

The motion, put forward by Councillor Tim Cartmell, asked administration to amend bylaws that would remove certain playground zones, redefine the location of playground zones, and change the hours of operation to 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. in the summer and 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. in winter.

The motion also suggested the city’s parameters mirror the province’s criteria regarding playground area locations and speed limits.

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READ MORE: Last Edmonton school zones converted to playground zones

In September 2017, city council voted unanimously to turn all school zones into playground zones. The first conversion happened that November and the final school zones were converted into playground zones on April 4.

In a school zone, the speed limit is 30 km/h between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., on days that students are in school. In a playground zone, the speed limit is 30 km/h from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.

However, a report flagged 40 zones for council to review. City staff said 28 likely shouldn’t be considered playground zones based on provincial guidelines that were set a decade ago.

READ MORE: 30 km/h speed limit signs starting to go up around Edmonton playgrounds

“It talks about the setback, for instance, of playground equipment from the street. It talks about the amount of frontage,” Cartmell said last week. “It talks about the type of roadway that we’re on. It talks about playground areas versus playground zones.”

“I don’t see that application to our work.”

In Tuesday’s motion, administration was also asked to create a review process for residents who want a certain road or playground zone modified or removed.

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The motion also includes streamlining the signage around playground zones and a request to analyze playground zones along multi-lane, divided, higher-volume collector routes.

READ MORE: Changes to playground zones in Edmonton confuse some drivers

Right now, there are 407 playground zones in Edmonton.

Twelve current playground zones are being reviewed based on the road they border. Three are along a multi-lane road, while another nine line extra-wide roads. Three others could be changed because they are in industrial areas.

Earlier this year two locations – W.P. Wagner School at Wagner Road and 86 Street and L.Y. Cairns Junior High School at 106 Street and 45 Avenue – were reviewed and the city decided not to turn them into playground zones.

Playground zone amendments motion submitted in Edmonton City Council April 24, 2018. Kim Smith, Global News

— With files from 630 CHED’s Scott Johnston and Kirby Bourne