City looks to collaborate with province on lowering Columbia Ave. speed limit.

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
February 17th, 2011

One of the realities for many small cities and towns in rural BC is that often our main streets also function as provincial highways–as is the case with Columbia Street in Rossland. While those highways do bring economic spinoffs in the form of traffic, they also–as Rosslanders well know–bring the less desirable realities of heavy truck traffic and occasional speeders, neither of which jibe particularly well with a pedestrian experience. The questions become ‘how fast is too fast?’ and ‘how can the speed be controlled on downtown sections of arterial highways?’. Rossland City Council this week made a series of two motions in hopes of beginning to address the issue of speed on arterial highways around BC.

Currently, the provincial Ministry Of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) has the legislative authority to set speed limits on provincial highways. Municipalities, regardless of whether highways run through their jurisdictions, may not regulate or control speed on these routes. Even though they’re aware, as a report to council stated, that “the chance of success is limited” Rossland city council is hoping they can arrange a meeting with MOTI officials to air local concerns and work collaboratively towards a solution.
As councillor Laurie Charlton commented, having “each municipality create its own sped limits [would] create confusion for drivers. If it is uniform throughout the province, it will be more successful. Right now it’s 50kph. I would suggest 40kph would be a reasonable speed limit.”
Following the passing of two motions on the issue, council plans to take a two pronged approach. Phase one will involved setting up a meeting between city council and staff from the MOTI Regional Office to discuss and attempt to find an amicable solution to the regulation of speed on arterial highways through the City of Rossland.
As noted by several councillors, the province is unlikely to make specific changes just for Rossland and the issue will likely need to be handled on a provincial level. With this in mind, council also passed a motion to bring the issue to the Association of Kootenay and Boundary Local Governments (AKBLG) for support and then, through the AKBLG, to bring the issue to the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities conference in hopes of gaining support from other municipalities. If successful, a coalition of municipalities would then lobby the province.
Council hopes that lowering the speed limits will increase safety without risking the benefits of highway traffic. At this stage, as the report to council noted, while there are no financial costs associated with the idea, “The proposed resolution might have an adverse impact if the regulation of speed is subject to municipal sign installations, maintenance and enforcements. It is possible that traffic fine revenues may see a decline as well.”
In the meantime Rossland’s current method of speed control (prolific downtown jaywalking) will have to suffice.
Would you support a lowering of the speed limit along Columbia Avenue? If so what would the ideal speed limit be?

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