SOUTH: Lakeside Speed limit may go up

By SAGEBIRCHWATERTribune Staff Writer
Jul 04 2006

If Williams Lake city council follows through on its June 27 committee of the whole recommendation at tonight's city council meeting, the speed limit along South Lakeside Drive will officially revert back to its former 60 kilometres per hour from the city boundary to Canadian Tire.

In a surprise move the committee of the whole invited South Lakeside residents Rossetta Paxton, Della Rauch and Judy Rolls to speak to the issue of raising the speed limit along a five-kilometre section of the road that had been decreased by city staff last January.

For the past six weeks the three women have been circulating petitions and lobbying city hall to have the old speed limits restored after the speed was arbitrarily cut from 60 km/h to 50 km/h and a mandatory 30 km/h school zone at Cariboo Adventist Academy to go with the one at Kwaleen.

At the May 30 committee of the whole meeting three of five city councillors opposed restoring the faster speed zones. At that time Rauch, Rolls and Paxton presented a 353-signature petition with 344 people in favour of restoring the higher speed zones and only nine wanting to keep them slower.

On June 27 the tables turned when Mayor Scott Nelson and five councillors, Surinderpal Rathor, Ed Mead, Paul French, Judy O'Neill and Tom Barr voted unanimously to restore the 60 km/h speed zone. They also resolved to do away with the mandatory 30 km/h school zones in front of Kwaleen Elementary Traditional School and Cariboo Adventist Academy and replace them with discretionary "caution when children on the road" signs.

Paxton, Rauch and Rolls say they are ecstatic.

"I'm very happy and I think everybody on South Lakeside is happy," Paxton said to the Tribune last week. "The unfortunate part, there's always somebody who doesn't agree."

Mayor Scott Nelson says council reviewed the information and "listened very wisely to South Lakeside residents."

"Council responded to what the majority of people who use South Lakeside Drive want," Nelson said to the Tribune. But in the same breath he said children's safety remains council's number one priority.

Nelson said lowering speed limits wasn't addressing the bigger problem of drivers speeding unsafely along the road.

"We'll be asking the RCMP to do patrols and the few individuals who are speeding erratically and excessively will be caught and charged."

Nelson said drivers will still have to slow down for the two school zones when children are on the road. To enhance children's safety he said several crosswalks will be installed along South Lakeside where children have to cross the road to catch the bus. There will also be some widening of the paved right-of-way.

Following the South Lakeside Drive decision, council also agreed to raise the speed limit along Mackenzie Avenue, and remove the mandatory 30 km/h speed zone in front of Glendale Elementary School. The speed limit will be 60 km/h on Mackenzie from Comer Street through Glendale up to to Highway 20, with a cautionary "slow when children on the road" school zone sign in front of Glendale School.

Glendale School principal Al Campsall said the slower the speed limits around schools, the better it is. He said he didn't see any harm in the recently imposed mandatory 30 km/h school zone.

He said the big problem with children's safety isn't so much children walking along the sidewalk, it's when they dart out into the road chasing after a ball that creates the biggest danger.

"We can't control what children do. To me there's not a lot of question. I don't mind going 30 km/h."

Lee Richards, principal of Cariboo Adventist Academy said parents in his school of 95 children are distressed that council plans to reverse the slower speed zone decision.

"They are looking at options available and will make their displeasure known."

At the May 30 committee of the whole meeting, a delegation from the Adventist Academy presented arguments supporting the mandatory 30 km/h speed zone.

"Parents are starting to mobilize to influence the decision," Richards said. "We have a dozen students who have to cross the street to catch the bus."

He said the school's biggest concern is that kids are safe.

"That's the only thing I'm worried about."

He said it would be fine if people obeyed the speed limits, but he noted that people tend to go faster than the posted limits.

"People are still zipping through here. What irks me most, going 30 km/h past the school only slows people down by five seconds."

Kwaleen Traditional School principal Jim Rowse says putting the speed zone back to 60 km/h and taking off the mandatory 30 km/h school zone in front of his school is no problem.

"The school is well back from the road and students get on or off the school bus once it pulls into the school grounds."

He said most of the students who walk to and from school use the Renner Road access in the back of the school.

"Very few children actually walk on South Lakeside."

Rowse said that children are society's most valuable commodity.

"Staff in our school feel that 60 km/h is a reasonable request if people use common sense. But where we get angry is when people don't abide by that speed limit. It's the yahoos who drive at excessive speeds that we're concerned about."