North Cowichan is considering reducing speed limits in residential areas.
Council decided to instruct staff to prepare a report on the issue at its meeting on Sept. 20, so specific recommendations will have to wait until the report is tabled at a future meeting.
Coun. Joyce Behnsen said that with the number of pedestrians and bicyclists increasing on local roadways, lowering the speed limits is becoming more important.
Behnsen referred to reports from other jurisdictions on their strategies to deal with “killer roads” and said some areas of North Cowichan are also dangerous due to vehicles moving at higher speeds than what is safe.
“The need for speed reduction on some roads is a big issue in the public’s eye.” she said.
Coun. Al Siebring is the chairman of North Cowichan’s public works committee which recommended that council have staff prepare a report on the issue, although he didn’t vote for it himself.
He said North Cowichan already has a good process to address issues around speeding in the municipality, and if there is a need to reduce speeds on specific roadways, council has the authority to do that on an individual basis.
Siebring also said he didn’t like the reference to “killer streets”.
“There are no killer roads in North Cowichan, just idiot drivers,” he said.
“Don’t lay the fault on our engineering department.”
Coun. Tom Walker said that there are some roadways in North Cowichan where he believes the speed limit should actually be raised.
“There are places along Herd Road where it’s tough to hold at 60 kilometres an hour,” he said.
“If there’s traffic, I sometimes annoy the drivers behind me when doing the speed limit. I think we should look at both raising and lowering speed limits where appropriate.”
David Conway, North Cowichan’s director of engineering and operations, said in his many years in his job, this was the first request from a councillor to raise speed limits.
“Some drivers would see it as an opportunity to drive faster on our roads that have been improved and widened,” he said.
“I’d recommend against that because we will see increased traffic on our roads over time, as well as more bicyclists and pedestrians and raising the speed limits would increase the safety risk.”
The recommendation for a report was passed, with Siebring and Walker opposed.