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Report on Whistler speed limits expected in the new year

Residents in multiple neighbourhoods have raised the issue
Residents in Cheakamus Crossing are fed up with people speeding in the neighbourhood. A report on speed limits in Whistler neighbourhoods is expected in early 2020. Photo by Braden Dupuis

Whistler residents wishing to see reduced speed limits in residential zones will want to keep their eyes on the council table in the new year.

A report discussing adjusting residential speed limits is coming to council on Jan. 21, said Mayor Jack Crompton at the Dec. 17 meeting.

The comment came in response to a letter from Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes, asking for support for a Saanich initiative to "modernize the Motor Vehicle Act."

"The current legislative reality of enacting municipal bylaws to change the speed limit on every block of every street is an administrative burden, but not one that can't be overcome. Rather, it is the financial burden and visual clutter of having to install the tens of thousands of signs province-wide that is at issue," Haynes wrote.

"More importantly, the current piecemeal nature in which speed limits are being lowered lacks consistency, effectiveness and safety. More cost-effective, consistent and safer solutions rest with changes that can be made through the Motor Vehicle Act."

The issue of residential speeding is nothing new in Whistler.

At its Sept. 3 meeting, council received no fewer than 82 pieces of correspondence urging it to reduce the speed limit on Nicklaus North Boulevard from 50 kilometres/hour to 30 km/h.

Residents in other neighbourhoods like Rainbow and Cheakamus Crossing have also raised the issue of traffic safety.

"I was contacted by a member of the Nicklaus North neighbourhood ... They're very keen to see those changes and it will be good for them to know that they can expect to see something [at council on] Jan. 21," said Councillor Cathy Jewett.

The Dec. 17 council package also included a letter from a Cheakamus resident raising concerns with speeding (though that neighbourhood is already a 30/km zone).

Council has heard from more than one Cheakamus resident about the issue, said Coun. Jen Ford.

"A friend of mine, her seven-year-old daughter was hit by a car in Cheakamus, and had done all the right things—she looked both ways, she was crossing a crosswalk, it was light of day," Ford said.

"So there are challenges with speed, other communities are recognizing it, [and] this is a great piece of advocacy for our community to join."

Ford said she would also advocate at the Union of BC Municipalities through her role as third vice president.

The letter was received and referred to staff.

Crompton said he has also been touch with Insp. Kara Triance, officer-in-charge for the RCMP's Sea to Sky region, about the issue in Cheakamus.

"She has passed it on to her team and they will be taking enforcement action down there," he said. "So there is more to it, but that is one of the tools that we have, and they will be down there."

Last February, Ford attended the Vision Zero Summit in Surrey, where close to 100 road safety experts, municipal government staff, civic leaders, researchers and public health professionals discussed the issue of road safety.

One of her takeaways from the event, she said at a subsequent council meeting, was that a 30 km/h speed limit makes sense, as research shows the probability of pedestrian survival is about 90 per cent if struck by a vehicle at that speed, but reduced to 20 per cent if struck by a vehicle travelling at 50 km/h.