Windsor city council endorses Vision Zero plan, but won't lower all neighbourhood speed limits

A 40 km/h speed limit sign is shown in a file photo. (CBC - image credit)
A 40 km/h speed limit sign is shown in a file photo. (CBC - image credit)

Windsor city council has adopted an action plan based on a long-discussed road safety strategy known as Vision Zero, but stopped short of approving a recommendation to lower speed limits to 40 km/h in residential neighbourhoods.

The Vision Zero Action Plan outlines 42 steps the city can take for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers to reduce serious collisions causing injuries or death. The steps would be rolled out gradually with a goal of eliminating these incidents in 15 years. Administration also prepared an implementation plan for the initiatives on the list.

No ultimate price tag was presented to council but items in the plan will come back for approval once costs are known, as administration expects the total to evolve over time and as initiatives roll out.

The debate over Vision Zero and lower speed limits in Windsor goes back four years, as several councillors acknowledged at the meeting on Monday morning.

The report called for lowering the default neighbourhood speed limit from 50 km/h to 40 km/h.

Shawna Boakes, the executive director of operations and deputy engineer, explained to councillors that that approach would require a capital cost of $1.5 million, plus another $90,000 annually.

That's because it would require a massive number of signs so that drivers turning off from a major road would be aware that the speed limit has changed, she explained.

She also argued that a blanket speed limit change is "not going to make a difference on our roads."

In jurisdictions that have adopted lower speed limits, results were achieved when combining reduced speed limits with traffic calming initiatives including speed humps and bump outs, she said.

Instead, administration recommended lowering speed limits on a piecemeal basis by studying reams of collision data. Then, any changes would be made neighbourhood by neighbourhood.

Boakes said it could be in the ballpark of a year before that analysis could be wrapped up and recommendations presented to council.

Couns. Kieran McKenzie and Jim Morrison acknowledged their position had changed on lowering speed limits, and they were now on board with the "surgical" approach recommended. Coun. Gary Kaschak said he could not support the motion because he agrees with the blanket lowering of speed limits.

All others who spoke on the motion were in support.

Administration also recommended that council adopt a new four-way stop policy to bring Windsor in line with the latest provincial regulations. That recommendation stemmed from an earlier request to study limiting new four-way stops.