News / Halifax

Halifax police leaders seeking clarification on school zone speed limits

The Halifax Regional Police chief has asked the province to clarify what he calls the “nebulosity” of a recent change to speed limits in school zones.

Last September, the provincial government implemented an amendment that drops the limit to 30 kilometres per hour “when children are present.”

During Monday’s Board of Police Commissioners meeting in Halifax, chair Micki Ruth asked senior police brass how officers were handling that particular requirement.

“How close is present? I drove by one day and there's a kid playing in a tree, about 30 feet away. Present?” she asked.

The question touched off a comical exchange on the criteria for “presence” in a school zone, which both HRP Chief Jean-Michel Blais and Halifax RCMP Supt. Roland Wells acknowledged is a challenge.

“From Monday to Friday, that's pretty clear cut,” said Wells. “It's the after-hours activity or the weekend activity that becomes difficult.”

“But then they're not present. Even if they're present. Or they are present if they're present?” responded Ruth, prompting Abbott & Costello comparisons from onlookers.

Blais said he’s asked the Department of Justice for clarification, though there’s been no response so far.

“New legislation takes time to work out the kinks…and the best way of making the change to make it more efficient.” he said.

Blais said so far, he’s not aware of any tickets that have been challenged in court.

Wells said RCMP have increased radar patrols in school zones by 138 per cent in April, compared to the same month last year.

He said he’d also like some clarity around the new law - though he said a marked cruiser is usually enough to slow most drivers down.

“When a marked cruiser is on the side of the road writing a (ticket)…the greater impact is the deterrent on the 15 people who have driven by,” he said.

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