A committee has been re-established in Estevan to examine issues related to traffic flows and speeding.
The Estevan Traffic Control Committee has met twice already, and they will meet monthly. Not only will they address speed issues within the community, they will respond to letters and concerns from the public, and make recommendations to Estevan City Council.
“Because there were letters and concerns coming in from the public and the citizens about traffic concerns, they decided that we should get this committee up and functional again,” said committee chair Pam Currie. “So that's what we're initially going to look at – the concerns that the citizens are writing in or e-mailing.”
Currie is on the committee as a representative of the South East Cornerstone Public School Board.
The other committee members come from a variety of backgrounds. South East Cornerstone transportation foreman Dan Gedak joins Currie as a representative of the school division.
Estevan Police Chief Paul Ladouceur and Constables Danielle Stephany and Paul Chabot are on the committee, too. Chabot is part of the Estevan Police Service's traffic unit. City Councillor Kevin Smith, who also serves as the chair of the Estevan Board of Police Commissioners, is part of the committee.
Other committee members include City of Estevan Land Development Services manager Rob Denys and Public Works manager Peter Kennedy, and recording secretary Ashley Tarr.
Council recently approved the first recommendation from the committee. School zones will replace reduced speed zones on the roads around Estevan's schools.
“It was timely that we were going to look at school zones and making children's safety our No. 1 concern,” said Currie.
Council backed the recommendation at their July 20 meeting. Before the change becomes official, council will need to approve a bylaw, and signage will have to be installed in the appropriate areas.
Currie is hopeful that the new signs will be up in time for the start of the school year.
Ladouceur said that the fines will be greater in school zones than reduced speed zones. School zone fines start at $210; for every kilometre that a motorist is over the speed limit – which is 30 kilometres per hour – the fine increases by $3 kilometres.
If a motorist is more than 30 kilometres over the limit, the fine increases to $6 per kilometre.
"The fines for a regular school zone, comparatively to a regular speeding infraction, are virtually doubled, if not more," said Ladouceur. "The idea is to have increased safety around school zones."
Most communities have gone from reduced speed zones to school zones, he said.
Ladouceur said the committee wanted to adopt something that needed to be implemented promptly, and school zones were chosen.
"We thought 'What would the community want as a priority as far as enforcement goes?'" said Ladouceur. "I think it's pretty safe to say that for most parents, their biggest concern is making sure their kids are going to and coming home from school safely."
The school zones restrictions will still be in effect from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. Ladouceur said bylaw amendments could be made to change the times.
Another issued discussed at the first meeting was reducing the speed limit from 50 to 40 kilometres per hour in most areas of the city. Local residents narrowly approved the change during a plebiscite, which is non-binding, in the 2012 civic election.
“We really have to do some research into it to see if it's warranted,” said Currie.
The speed limit would remain 50 for several arterial roads, such as Fourth Street, and on industrial roads, such as Devonian Street.
The signage for the lower speed limits would cost about $50,000.
Committee members noted that some narrow streets, such as Grundeen Crescent in the Pleasantdale subdivision, might need a speed limit lower than 40.
The committee also discussed such measures as speed bumps to slow down traffic, signage in new subdivisions and playground zones. They also went through the City's extensive bylaw list on traffic control, Currie said.
People who have concerns can write a letter or an e-mail to the City of Estevan, Currie said. The information will then be forwarded to the committee members. People should not send the requests to the Estevan Police Service or the police board, as the traffic committee is a separate entity.
“Traffic control in Estevan is definitely an issue,” said Currie. “We've grown so much in the past three years, and we do have to look at making things safe out there for both kids and pedestrians.”
The committee's re-establishment is a step forward in enhancing safety in Estevan, she said.
Currie expects that committee members will be kept busy reading and reviewing letters from the public, and researching what they can do to improve traffic flow in the community.