City councillors have voted against a plan that could have given Winnipeggers the chance to weigh in on whether or not to reduce residential speed limits.
A motion to see a plebiscite on speed limits added to the ballot during the next civic election was ultimately defeated by councillors on the city’s executive policy committee (EPC) at their Wednesday meeting.
The idea had been brought forward by Transcona Coun. Shawn Nason, who, before the meeting, told Global News a majority of those living in his ward oppose reducing speed limits on residential streets.
The city has been looking into reducing speed limits on residential streets to 30 or 40 km/h. The province passed a bill in March 2019 that allows municipalities to set their own speed limits.
“My residents have been loud and clear that they, in no uncertain terms, do not want any change in speed,” Nason told Global News.
“It’s been 50 km/h for many decades but there is a push in the city by, I would say, a small but vocal amount of residents, that have expressed a want and a desire to lower the speed.”
Nason’s motion was rejected by a 6-1 vote, with only North Kildonan councillor Jeff Browaty voting in favour.
“I believe that streets are generally engineered for 50 km/hr speed limits, but that’s a maximum speed under ideal conditions,” Browaty said in an email to Global News before the vote.
“When there’s pedestrians, bikes, wheelchairs, parked cars, ice, snow, etc., on or near the roadway, it’s already mandatory to slow down.”
Browaty went on to say he thinks the majority of Winnipeggers don’t support reducing speed limits.
“While there are frequently well-intended interest groups at City Hall requesting blanket reductions, I don’t believe their position is based on sound policy or the interests of the broader public,” he said.
“Unfortunately, I believe their frequent attempts to reduce speed limits is getting on to the agenda of my colleagues and I believe a ballot question is an appropriate way, in this instance, to broadly debate the issue and gauge the position of the broader public.”
The vote means Nason’s motion was received as information by EPC and won’t move on to be voted on by council as a whole.
Before the meeting Nason said he would to come back to council with other plans on the issue should his motion not pass.
“I will be prepared to come back with other ideas and ways to try and maintain this 50 km/h speed because that’s what my residents expect of me.”