The City of Surrey is considering reducing speed limits on residential streets.
Vancouver city council initiated a pilot project last year to reduce the speed limit on some of that city’s side streets to 30 km/h from 50 km/h. But the provincial government has since rejected a call from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities to amend the Motor Vehicle Act to permit cities to institute blanket speed limit reductions in residential areas, school zones and parks within their boundaries.
While the Ministry of Transportation does not plan to change statutory speed limits, it acknowledges that cities “can alter speed limits within their communities through the implementation of bylaws,” according to a February 2020 provincial government document.
“If a municipality lowers a speed limit, they must use traffic signs to define the new speed limit throughout each area selected to both inform drivers of the speed limit and to enable enforcement of speed related offences,” the document states.
Surrey city council on Feb. 24 approved five “key pillars” of a Surrey Transportation Plan that was authorized by council in June to support “smart development, Vision Zero Surrey (a program to improve street safety in Surrey), the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain expansion along Fraser Highway, and Surrey’s Climate Action Strategy.
Before the vote, Councillor Doug Elford asked city staff, “Are you going to be taking into account what similar issues that Vancouver’s considering right now in terms of reduction of speeds in residential areas? Is that part of this transportation plan as well?”
Scott Neuman, general manager of engineering replied, “As part of our Vision Zero Surrey initiative we are looking at speed limitations on streets as in comparing and assessing what other cities across Canada are doing and Vancouver is one of the multiple cities that’s looking at lowered speed limits to reduce collisions, and that would be included as part of our Vision Zero, which dovetails as part of this overall strategic plan.”
The Surrey Transportation Plan is intended to set a framework for the next 10 years. It’s five pillars include growing the city’s transportation network, prioritizing Vision Zero Surrey toward making streets safer, tackling the climate crisis, technological innovation, and balance equity – meaning all Surrey residents should benefit from and have “equitable access” to the city’s transportation network.