Council votes down motion to reduce speed limit in Oakville to 40 km/hr.


Published September 20, 2023 at 7:21 pm

A motion to reduce the posted speed on local and minor collector roads through town to 40 km/h was turned down by Oakville Town Council. INHALTON PHOTO

Oakville residents won’t have to ease up on the gas pedal when they drive through the town.

A motion put forward by Ward 1 Town and Regional Councillor Sean O’Meara to reduce the posted speed limit on local and minor collector roads through town to 40 km/h was turned down by Town Council at a meeting earlier this week.

O’Meara was looking to follow the lead of other municipalities in lowering the speed limit, but the motion was soundly defeated by a 10-4 vote.

Town staff did not recommend the lowering of the speed limit after a neighbourhood 40 km/h pilot project showed “an insignificant impact on operating speeds and did not achieve the objective of altering driving behaviour.”

The pilot project even found a slight increase in speed when compared to posted speed limits of 50 km/hr.

O’Meara said there never was going to be a silver arrow that fixes this. Instead, he said, he wanted this to just be a start to the process to get there.

“It was never about the data we’re getting back,” he said. “It’s about this council setting the marker and saying this is where we think everybody should get to and let’s (help) our kids and everybody else eventually get there.”

“If we don’t set what are expectation is for people in our communities, then we can’t tell them to slow down because we’re not asking them to slow down. So, that’s why I think it’s important to do this. I think we have an obligation in our residential areas as we get more and more density.”

Changing human behaviour takes time, added the Ward 1 councillor. He pointed to when the government got cigarettes out of bars, people to wear seatbelts and people to recycle. It’s never been about putting some sings up and people change.

“One thing we did do at that time is that government at all levels set a marker,” he said. “They said this is what we believe in. We don’t believe vehicles should be driving 50 to 50 km/hr. where are kids play basketball, where are seniors are walking on the sidewalk or out shovelling driveways, or where people are jogging.

“We don’t believe 50 to 60 km/hr. should be the norm. What we think it should be is 40 to 50 km/hr and dozens and dozens of municipalities think it should be lower and have made it lower. Right across the GTHA, in Halton and all over because they’ve started down a process to get to generational change, and it does not happen by putting signs up and pieces of paper in a mailbox.”

Councillor Janet Haslett-Theall voted against the speed reduction, but expressed she did hear from residents who are concerned about the speeds on the roads.

This is a thorny issue for a lot of residents who were hoping that 40 km/hr would come along because it would allow them to therefore qualify for traffic calming,” she said. “So, we have several streets where they hit 55, not 56, but if they were in a 40 km/hr they would qualify for traffic calming.

“Clearly, they’re frustrated because the system is not giving them tools to slow down their street. Though, I take it, that the data is not supporting, in our town, that people slow down to change the sign.”

Ward 5 Councillor Marc Grant believes the motion isn’t worth spending the money because there are already tools in place to slow down speeders.

“A quarter of million dollars is a hard placebo to swallow when we’ve been asking everyone else to watch their own budgets and when we have at least eight excellent tools, thank you very much to our staff, that we can continue to use to try and stop people from speeding,” he said.

Ward 6 Councillor Natalia Lishchyna said she was against the motion from Day 1.

“Community Safety Zones are an important area to cover, which when we talk about safety that’s where that money should be going,” she said.

Ward 4 Town and Regional Councillor Allan Elgar is not only concerned about the speed cars are going, but the noise they also make.

“I’m convinced now that the only method we’ll have to control speeds in Oakville is to have automated speed enforcement and in the near future I’m also hoping we’ll be able to add a decibel meter for the noisy mufflers in the town,” he said. “It’s becoming a huge issue, speeding and noise that have decibels way above the levels they should be.

“I’m concerned it’s taking so long to get the automated speed enforcement installed and we’re losing revenue for the first couple of years until 2025.”

Elgar asked Town staff whether there was any way to speed up getting the automated speed enforcement installed. Staff replied that they are waiting for the province to sign of the agreements and give them the go ahead.

Staff did say they hope those are installed ahead of time in 2024.

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