The Executive Committee of City Council discussed proposed traffic bylaw amendment No. 5717 following council’s regular meeting on May 27 — the bylaw contains many infrastructure items for traffic safety, but the highlight is a recommendation to make Moose Jaw’s school zones 30 kilometres per hour. 

Bylaw #5717 would amend Traffic Bylaw 5556, including allowing city administration to relocate vehicles in the way of city construction crews, clarity on u-turns and no-stopping zones, strengthening language around permits and enforcement, and signage improvements to make the city’s school zones safer. 

The bylaw review stems from council’s April 22 regular meeting. 

“I’d like to touch base on the Safe Routes to Schools project, speed reduction, and then go through, in summary, the remaining traffic bylaws,” explained Bevan Harlton, Moose Jaw’s Director of Operations.  

“The bylaw has been in discussion between Public Works and the city solicitor for some time, primarily trying to address gaps in our permitting processes, removing obscure permits from the bylaw ... different attempts to gain clarity around keeping our roadways safe and free of obstructions, and (other) efforts. 

“At the same time, through the work of the Transportation Master Plan, we became aware and interested to see that we were behind the times on the 30-kilometer-an-hour speed reduction.” 

Harlton said his department has confirmed the work of consultants on school zone speed reductions throughout Saskatchewan. They contacted 14 other municipalities, all of which have legislated 30 kph school zones. 

The Safe Routes to School project will cost about $500,000, with $300,000 coming from the sidewalk budget and $200,000 from the traffic control budget. 

“That’s money that’s within approved funds for this year, Harlton said. “Between the changes to the bylaw and the construction work, what we will see prior to the start of school in September is standardized signage, defined school zones, clarity around ‘no stopping’ and u-turns, reduced speeds, simplifying language to allow for enforcement, and overall increased safety at our schools.” 

Will Moose Jaw Police start enforcing the new limits without warning? 

Harlton noted that the Moose Jaw Police Service (MJPS) has planned a grace period following the changes, although officers will have discretion according to the extent of the infraction. 

Staff Sergeant Cam Lewis of the MJPS was on hand for the discussion and confirmed that the speed camera at 746 Caribou Street West would be included in the grace period consideration. 

“Our intention would be ... that September 1, or the first day of school, would be a hard start date for us to begin full enforcement,” Lewis said, “provided that there’s been a sufficient grace period before that install.” 

The bylaw has been the subject of months of consultation with stakeholders such as the MJPS, school administrators, and city advisory committees. The full report can be read here. 

What about loading and unloading zones?

Councilor Jamey Logan wanted to know how caretakers will manage loading and unloading their children. 

“Is there going to be a loading zone?” Logan wondered. “Does your kid just duck-and-roll out the door? There must be a stopping area, I’m just wondering how that’s going to look.” 

Harlton said the loading zones around Moose Jaw’s schools would be unchanged — signage changes will be limited to clarifying the current No Parking and No Stopping zones around Moose Jaw schools. 

Are there going to be more crosswalks to be aware of? 

The next question came from Councilor Doug Blanc, who asked Harlton about upkeep on the new crosswalks. Blanc said many of the city’s already existing crosswalks are difficult to see for much of the year. 

“In the report, it says a lot of the schools have indicated there’s a lack of crosswalks — they felt that they need more,” he noted. 

“We haven’t discussed improving our line painting scheme, (or) what that might cost at this time,” Harlton said. “Crosswalks are some of the first line painting that we do get done in public works, I mean operationally ... However, we haven’t discussed improving our line painting scheme at this time. There are opportunities for improvements on the operational side. 

“How these corridors will be improved, ultimately, is through the 39 pedestrian ramps at the right locations and the appropriate markings at those locations. With that, we’re not looking to increase or decrease (the number of) corridors for students to cross. We’re just looking to bring the speeds down, make signage consistent, and have consistent crossings.” 

Importance of consistent signage

Councilor Heather Eby spoke up to comment on the catalogue the report contains of the variety of traffic signs throughout Moose Jaw. 

Screenshot from report to Moose Jaw City Executive Committee on the Safe Routes to Schools plan

“Really interesting, going through the paper report that you gave us and looking at the pictures of all of the different signs that we have. ... They’re all different, and I look forward to consistent and standardized signs.  

“I think that will make things, really, a lot more clear for everyone, and it’ll look better as well. Remind me,” Eby said to Harlton, “were we told there was one school zone that had a whole (outrageous) number of ‘No U-Turn' signs?” 

Harlton confirmed that, saying, “Yes, the one that is jumping out is the school that has 12 ‘No U-Turn' signs, attached to whatever object could be found at that time.”