Many municipalities across British Columbia, including Saanich, have expressed an interest in having the authority to establish reduced default speed limits within their jurisdiction. Reducing default speed limits has many benefits, including reducing vehicle operating speeds, improving road safety, and improving neighbourhood livability. It can have significant safety benefits in terms of fewer collisions, as well as less severe collisions when they do occur. Lower speed limits can also reduce risks to people who walk, bike and use mobility aids.
BC municipalities have the authority to regulate speed limits on their roadways, although they do not currently have the authority to change the default speed limit under the BC Motor Vehicle Act (BC MVA). Although the Province has not amended the BC MVA, it has recently amended Part 13 of the BC MVA to allow pilot projects that would research, test, and evaluate new regulatory approaches to matters not currently set out in the MVA framework.
The Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure has indicated that an intake for Motor Vehicle Act pilot projects will occur in the Fall of 2021 with a general theme of projects that increase road safety for vulnerable road users. They have indicated that this will include the potential for pilot speed limit reductions on specific roads or classifications of roads.
As a result, the District of Saanich is leading a regional initiative with several other Capital Region municipalities that would set the default speed limit to 30 km/h on streets without a continuous yellow centreline.
The pilot project would apply primarily to roads that have lower traffic volumes. These changes would not affect school zones, playground zones or other existing speed zones that have been enacted by bylaw and signs on individual streets.
On October 19, 2020, Saanich Council unanimously agreed to participate in the Pilot Project application process. If the application for a 3-year pilot project is successful, this initiative would be implemented in Summer/Fall of 2022. A public education program would accompany the pilot program to ensure broad awareness across our community.
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