Council puts brakes on school, playground zone decision

Okotoks: Zones may go into effect until 9 p.m.

By: Roxanne Blackwell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jul 02, 2014 05:28 pm

A vehicle passes through a school zone on Milligan Drive on June 30. Okotoks council is waiting to see if Calgary extends school and playground zones to 9 p.m. and will consider doing the same at their meeting on July 14.
A vehicle passes through a school zone on Milligan Drive on June 30. Okotoks council is waiting to see if Calgary extends school and playground zones to 9 p.m. and will consider doing the same at their meeting on July 14.
JORDAN VERLAGE/OWW

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Okotoks town council put the brakes to a decision to change the hours for school and playground zones in town.

Councillors are considering instituting a 30 km per hour speed limit every day from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. for both school zones and playground zones. The issue came to council on June 23 for a decision and town administration is asking councillors to follow what their counterparts in the city of Calgary put in place.

Calgary city council is looking at setting a similar time for school and playground zones; however, the only problem is the city council hasn’t made a decision yet.

Coun. Matt Rockley said that while it makes sense to have the same times between Okotoks and Calgary, further thought needs to be put in to make a logical decision.

“Consistency is good, but we lose the common sense aspect,” he said in council. “I have a lots of issues making them from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. across the board, 9 p.m. is both too early and too late (depending on the time of year). Do we need to be driving slower at 8 p.m. when the sun went down three hours ago?”

Changes made to the provincial Traffic Safety Act on June 1 allow municipalities to set their own hours for the zones. The idea is to create a safer environment for children and reduce driver confusion, as the current end time for playground zones is one hour after sunset, a time that can range between 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. depending on the time of year.

Some Okotoks residents aren’t particularly keen on the idea.

Okotokian Karen McLeod said she doesn’t think 9 p.m. is the best option.

“I think for the uniformity, the same rules wherever you go is good just for consistency and making it easier,” she said. “But kids aren’t out playing at 7 p.m. in the winter time, so having it until 9 p.m. is ridiculous when there's nobody out there.”

Resident Sharon Martin said she’s ok with speeds being reduced for shorter hours in the winter and longer hours in the summer, because as long as the sun is out, so are kids.

“There are a lot of people that don’t seem to recognize there are children that are going around and now that the days are longer with the playground I’ve noticed for sure that people are still driving way too fast and to slow down especially in those areas I think is really important,” she said.

Coun. Tanya Thorn said council may choose to leave the times the way they are, as they have so far been effective.

If council decides to move forward with the time changes, approximately 60 playground zone signs and 50 school zone signs would need new vinyl stickers reflecting the new hours. The cost for materials and labour is anticipated to be $15,000. The decision will come back to council at its July 14th meeting.

Coun. Ed Sands said in council that it’s an important decision and council has to keep the best interests of the community in mind.

“It’s an important thing affecting our children,” he said. “The most important thing here is the consistency with Calgary so I would like to see where they go.”


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