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Calgarians being asked their opinion on lowering speed limits

Calgary city council looking for public opinion on residential speed limits
WATCH: The City of Calgary's transportation committee is presenting several different options aimed at slowing drivers down. Many say speed is killing people and are asking politicians to do something about it. Jill Croteau reports.

Calgarians will soon be given an opportunity to weigh in on some of the scenarios city administration is looking at in lowering speed limits on residential streets and collector roads.

On Wednesday, the city’s Transportation and Transit committee recommended council set up an engagement process with Calgarians and business stakeholders.

The three scenarios include a 30 km/h speed limit on residential and collector streets, 30 km/h on residential streets with collector streets at 50km/h and a final option of 40km/h on both residential streets and collector roads.

The committee also voted to include the option of leaving things as they are as well as getting a cost analysis of what the changes would cost.

Councillors were told initial estimates were in the tens of millions of dollars.

“We can’t afford not to do it” ward seven councillor Druh Farrell said.

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“There’s a huge cost to Alberta Health Services to lost work time, it’s about $1.2 billion a year from injuries and deaths on our streets” she told reporters.

Councillor Sean Chu said instead of a blanket reduction in the speed limit in residential areas across the city he’d rather it be based on a case-by-case basis.

“Is there somewhere where it’s necessary to reduce speed, if that’s the case let’s do it, but one size does not fit all.”

Chu understands there’s a move in trying to achieve no deaths but things no matter what, accidents can happen.

“If we’re going to be a nanny state, let’s issue everyone a sumo suit with a helmet,” he said.

“That might reduce a lot, but guarantee it’s not going to be zero, someone is going to hurt themself (sic) no matter what.”

Farrell says it’s important to understand the move to lower residential speed limits won’t impact larger commuter roadways and slow down all traffic.

“If we implemented these different scenarios, maximum a couple of minutes,

“So how much is a child’s life worth, is it worth a couple of minutes in your daily commute? I believe it is and then some,” said Farrell.

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Keith Simmons, who’s on the traffic committee for the Acadia community association and has for years advocated for lower speed limits in residential areas, told the committee he was surprised they were so concerned about costs.

“When we sit and talk about the cost involved with lowering speed limits, I just can’t see how you can even think about the feeling people have when they lose family members— that it’s something that you could a price tag on,” he said, relating how he lost a close friend who was killed in a traffic collision in a pedestrian cross walk.

While the collision did not involve excessive speed, proponents for lower speed limits say the severity of an injury or death is reduced at a lower speed limit.

An update and recommendation from administration will come back to the committee in June 2020.