News / Calgary

Calgary city charter could reopen 40km/h debate

Charter could give city jurisdiction over speed limits, making it easier and cheaper to change

Safety advocates say lowering residential speed limits to 40 km/h will make things safer for pedestrians.

Metro File

Safety advocates say lowering residential speed limits to 40 km/h will make things safer for pedestrians.

Although council put the brakes on lowering residential speed limits, a change in city charter rights might mean a renewed debate to slow down some roads.

In May, Calgary’s councillors weren’t keen to study if 40 km/h residential speed limits would be an ideal next step as part of the pedestrian strategy.

Now, with renewed city charter talks, Calgary would gain back powers to set their own speed limits within the city.

For Coun. Shane Keating the debate would have to include massive public consultation.

“It’s always been on the table. The issue is when, where and how to implement it without a great degree of expense,” said Keating. “We’d have to go out to the public and have a good discussion on what they like to do. A decision like this can’t be made in the absence of solid public engagement.”

Keating mentioned the possibility of a plebiscite, or a survey.

Jodi Morel, of Vision Zero Calgary, noted she’s a little skeptical of an all-or-nothing approach, and hopes council will adopt a similar model to how Toronto chooses communities for lowered speed limits.

“We need to start to change people’s behaviour over time, because we know if we lower speed limit alone only a small percentage of people comply all the time,” said Morel. “But at least we’d be setting a precedent to say this is the safer speed for liveability and safety.”

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the city charter discussions are very exciting.

“I know there’s some very eye-watering stuff on there about assessment and taxation,” said Nenshi. “It’s actually really important, it cuts bureaucracy, it cuts red tape.”

He noted a number of members of council weren’t interested in pursuing speed limit changes.

“Should we have the power to vary speed limits within our boundaries, I’ll imagine there will be a conversation on whether that’s the right thing to do,” he said. 

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