The City of Armstrong wants to achieve a safe community when it comes to traffic.
They want drivers to drive effectively, to go to and from their destinations with ease.
They want to protect those in the community who utilize the roadways with their bikes, and those who use sidewalks and crosswalks as pedestrians.
But changing the speed limit in the city may not ultimately achieve those goals.
Council has been inundated with requests to do something about the speeding in the city, especially in school zones, by the public after a boy was clipped in a crosswalk near Armstrong Elementary, and a number of other close calls have been witnessed.
The six councillors and Mayor Chris Pieper had contemplated changing the speed limit within the city to 40 kilometres per hour, and received an in-depth report from community services manager Warren Smith on that and other traffic concerns at the regular meeting of council Monday, March 22.
“We’re very much aware we’ve received complaints from the public,” said Smith. “This is not something new to the community.”
Smith said the city started receiving complaints in December and wanted to make sure staff acted on the information provided. But as he told council, info provided by the public is what they have witnessed and it’s their perspective. The city, he said, can’t act on that information alone.
“We also have to look at the information that we have data from our radar units,” said Smith, explaining the city has three different types of data it can access as well as data from the RCMP, whom he praised for stepping up their patrols, especially in the school zones.
“The RCMP has been very active in the community. We’ve seen them within the school zones on a weekly basis, so they’re making an attempt to answer the complaints.”
Lowering the speed limit within school zones 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week comes with challenges.
There is a conflict, Smith said, within the Motor Vehicle Act in identifying a zone as a school zone or a park zone. They are policed differently. The city does have an option of identifying a zone or roadway just outside the boundary of a school zone and could reduce that area to 30 km/h which would continue on into the school zone. Such a change, though, could cause confusion to drivers unaware of the change. Smith said an educational time period would have to be put in place to give drivers a chance to learn about the change.
The Armstrong Spallumcheen Fire Department has expressed some concern for its members about a lower speed limit reducing firefighters’ response time, not from the hall to the emergency but in volunteers getting to the fire hall from home or their job.
“We need to look at traffic calming overall,” said Smith. “That doesn’t mean putting in speed bumps. It could be speed humps, speed tables, roundabouts, sidewalk extensions or narrowing of the streets. All these physical changes to a roadway could have a drastic effect on the driver, and that’s what we want to be able to do.
“We currently have speed limit signs out there and we have an issue. Drivers are not obeying the speed limit posted. If we reduce the speed limit, are we going to achieve the goal we want to achieve?”
It would cost approximately $8,000 to change about 18 speed limit signs within the community, and approximately $3,333 to do a changeover near Armstrong Elementary and Pleasant Valley Road.
Coun. Paul Britton had been fairly insistent about dropping the speed limit to 40 km/h but after Smith’s comprehensive report, and public feedback, he nows feels it might not make a difference.
“I’m not as adamant about reducing the speed as I once was because there’s a lot of suggestions about how else we reduce the speed in town,” said Britton. “I’m glad people are getting involved and providing information.”
Council voted unanimously for staff to prepare a report on speed data to make an informed decision and to forward funding for future traffic calming measures for consideration in the 2022 budget deliberations.