(Portage & Main all over again...)

Plebiscite should decide speed limit question, councillor says


Coun. Shawn Nason hopes to put to rest the issue of reducing the speed limit on residential streets, by calling for a plebiscite in 2022, when voters elect a new mayor and council.

"This has been an ongoing dialogue in the City of Winnipeg likely before I was elected," said Nason. "There’s lots of talk of is it 30 km/h? Is it 40 km/h? Or do we maintain the 50 km/h? My residents in Transcona have said very loudly and clearly they want to maintain the current limit."

Nason said a plebiscite is the best way to let Winnipeggers have a say in the matter. He added that he supports maintaining the 50 km/h speed limit and believes the public does, too.

"Residential neighbourhoods in the City of Winnipeg have been 50 km/h forever and a day and there doesn’t seem to be a want and desire by the mass majority to make any changes of that nature, nor to spend the money it would take to do such an undertaking," he said.

The speed limit on residential areas isn’t the problem, said Nason, it’s that drivers need to be more aware of their surroundings.

"Safe operation on the streets, that is where the biggest challenges come from on our residential streets," he said.

"People need to drive for conditions and be aware that people might not be aware of their surroundings. We’re driving two-tonne vehicles, we need to take the abundance of caution that those who are riding bikes, playing street hockey, might not be alert and aware of what’s coming at them."

The idea of reducing the speed limit on residential streets was raised at the Dec. 4 public works committee. Nason said he believes the committee chairman, Coun. Matt Allard (St. Boniface), wants to spend $1.8 million to lower the speed limit to 30 km/h and put up signage in residential areas.

"If we do that citywide, that’s an exponential amount of money," said Nason.

Nason plans to present his idea for a plebiscite at the next East Kildonan-Transcona community committee meeting on Jan. 5. Two of three councillors must approve the idea for it to be considered by other city committees.

"This will go up to the mayor and his committee if they look at this or accept this as information, I do hope they give it some consideration."