UBCM rejects lower 40km/h default speed limit

Delegates nix call to slow urban drivers in name of safety, note cities can set different limits

B.C. communities won’t push to lower the default speed limit to 40 kilometres per hour on residential streets.

Victoria councillors argued that pedestrian safety is paramount, but delegates at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention defeated their motion Friday.

Cities can still vary local speed limits from the 50 km/h default on a street-by-street basis, but proponents of the lower limit also hoped the province would cover the cost of changing signs.

Advocates had warned that unless cities sign every alley and laneway at lower speeds, drivers can legally roar through them at 50 km/h.

Opponents said enforcement is the real problem.

“You can reduce the municipal speed limit to 10 kilometres per hour – it’s not going to help,” said Thompson-Nicola Regional District director Ken Gillis.

He said B.C. cities need a different way to ticket traffic violators without using costly and highly trained police officers.

Comox Mayor Paul Ives said it was “wishful thinking” to believe the province would pay for sign change costs and said the shift to a 40 km/h default would confuse drivers.

“We don’t want this. I’m sure many other municipalities don’t want this,” Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta said.

“If you take it to extreme, if we keep going slower and slower and slower in the name of safety, eventually we will all grind to a halt.”