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City council to debate lowering residential speed limits, Calgarians may ultimately decide

Last Updated Feb 1, 2021 at 12:09 pm MDT

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – City councillors are exploring the possibility of letting Calgarians decide if the city should lower residential speed limits, among other resolutions.

On Monday, city council will hold a strategic meeting to discuss the prospect of three separate plebiscites in the next municipal election in October.

Among the questions that may appear on the ballot: should Calgary reduce residential speed limits?

The city is considering lowering the speed limits from 50 km/hr to 40 km/hr on residential streets and unposted areas.

Ward 1 Coun. Ward Sutherland is in favour of reducing the speed limits. He says Calgary is already behind cities like Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto.

“We’re one of the last to join,” said Sutherland. “I’m sure there will be less accidents, and less deaths.”

A lengthy debate on that matter has already taken place and recommendations were made on how to move forward.

City administration is recommending not letting Calgarians vote on that topic due to various concerns, such as setting a precedent for other council decisions to go to a public vote. There is also a concern that the wording of the question could be confusing.

“Getting people all emotional about it is really doing a disservice,” said Sutherland. “And I find it really disappointing.”

Cyclist Brett Bergie says a plebiscite is putting the decision into the wrong hands.

“A plebiscite would invite a lot of misinformation and a lot of passion feelings,” said Bergie. “And I expect our elected officials and elected leaders to look at the evidence, look at the data, consider best practice, and make an appropriate decision.”

Bergie says she also wants speed limits reduced on collector roads, something that is not currently being considered.

“There are children playing in the yards on these streets,” she said. “There are seniors walking up and down the sidewalks accessing parks.”

Other resolutions being discussed on Monday

City council will also discuss the question of adding fluoride to the drinking water again. City administration says a plebiscite may not be necessary because similar decisions have been made by council.

The third potential plebiscite is related to the province of Alberta wanting to hold a referendum on equalization.

The City of Calgary says that vote could just be a political exercise, but it could pose an opportunity for the city to hold a plebiscite on re-examining Calgary’s fiscal relationship with the province.

It is tied into findings from officials that Calgary could get a new, fair deal.