It appears Bracebridge motorists will need to learn to drive a little slower.
Today Bracebridge general committee voted to have the posted speed limit, or ‘default speed limit’, on all local and collector roads under their jurisdiction set at 40 km/h. That includes all urban and rural roads in the municipality.
The motion was approved as part of the Town’s discussion of their Transportation Master Plan.
The proposal to drop the speed limit was deferred last month to gain more information.
During today’s meeting, Coun. Don Smith made a motion to delete the 40 km/hr limit and move ahead with approving the rest of the Master Plan.
Smith said the speed limit changes were “problematic,” and he’s heard many complaints from the public since the idea was proposed by staff last month. He said council needs more information on the effect the changes will have, and in particular, how it will be enforced. As such, he said the OPP should have some input on the changes.
Smith said the changes will also cause issues with consistency and confusion.
“We have a problem with speeders at 50 km/ hr and 40 km/hr isn’t going to fix that,” he said. “Without enforcement, we won’t accomplish anything.”
Coun. Archie Buie said he’s had a lot of feedback from the public regarding the potential changes.
“What I got back from people, other than shock…was that we all understand changing speed limits changes nothing. It’s enforcement,” he said.
Buie said another problem is some roads fall under District speed limits, such as Manitoba Street and Taylor Road, while others will be under the 40 km limit, potentially causing a great deal of confusion for motorists.
“Without changing the other roads to 40 it’s a farce,” he said
Geoff Carleton, Director of Public Works, said the aim of the reduced speed limit is to make the streets safer for pedestrians and motorists and it’s an idea that’s being embraced by municipalities around Ontario and in other jurisdictions globally. Carleton said that reducing the speed limits now will allow Town staff to build roadways to a 40 km standard in the future.
Coun. Barb McMurray said she was strongly in favor of reducing the speed limits to 40 km and particularly in the rural area. She said the streets there are dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists and reducing the speed limit to 40 km an hour for the roads around the Vancoughnet area in particular will greatly increase the comfort level for those living there.
Councilors Tatiana Sutherland and Debbie Vernon said there are also multiple areas in town where motorists present safety hazards to the public and children in particular, citing Front Street, Quebec Street and the area around the Bracebridge Sportsplex as problems.
“I’m willing to throw my support behind something that inconveniences some drivers who want to speed,” said Sutherland.
In a recorded vote, Coun. Smith and Buie opposed dropping the speed limit, while Coun. Vernon, McMurray, Sutherland, Brenda Rhodes and Mayor Rick Maloney supported the 40 km/hr limit. Coun. Andrew Struthers was absent.
The decision must now be ratified by Town Council during their next meeting on December 13th at 2:30 p.m.
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