Weyburn council split on raising speeds in city

Weyburn councillors were split in a vote on a traffic bylaw which would have allowed speeds to be increased on Railway Avenue among other things, and city administration will have to start over again on the bylaw.

At Monday night’s council meeting, the city’s traffic bylaw came up for discussion and a vote, and with Coun. Jeff Richards missing, there were six members of council on hand.

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The bylaw did not pass as the vote was a 3-3 split, with councillors Dick Michel, Mel Van Betuw and Winston Bailey opposing it, and councillors Jeff Chessall, Brad Wheeler and Mayor Marcel Roy in favour.

The bylaw covers many aspects of traffic laws in the city, including reducing the times the school zone speed of 30 km an hour would be in effect, but the focus of the councillors was on the speed of Railway Avenue. The bylaw proposed to increase the speed from 40 to 50 km an hour.

Coun. Michel noted this same issue was raised some 15 years ago, and then-police chief Bill Millar took the councillor for a ride down Railway to show the speed should be increased, pointing out the businesses that would be affected.

Mayor Marcel Roy disputed what former chief Millar said to the councillor, and pointed out that every other city in Saskatchewan has 50 km an hour as a normal speed, not 40 like Weyburn has.

“When we increased the speed to 50 on 16th Street, everybody said there’d be carnage. We had no carnage,” said the mayor, adding there were also people who were afraid of accidents when the ban on left turns was lifted at the downtown intersection of Third Street and Souris Avenue. There have been no negative impacts on that intersection, he noted.

Coun. Mel Van Betuw said the speed limit should not be based on what other cities do, and commented, “I don’t know what we’re trying to fix if it’s not broken.”

He noted with the businesses on Ninth and 10th Streets, customers have to back out onto Railway Avenue, and a higher speed might pose a danger.

“I don’t know what we’re trying to fix by upping the speed to 50,” he said, adding that many residents have talked to him about this issue in the last couple of weeks, and most were urging him to vote to keep the speed at 40.

“I too have been talking to a lot of people about it. I think for the most part, they’re saying to leave it where it is,” said Coun. Winston Bailey, adding he agreed with Coun. Van Betuw’s comments.

Coun. Chessall said he agreed with the mayor on this issue, and in getting opinions through social media and in person, most people have been telling him to change the speed to 50.

He also noted that a speed limit of 50 km an hour does not mean people will be speeding at 60, but that 50 is the maximum.

“If you’re in the area where there’s congestion, then you should slow down anyway,” added Coun. Chessall.

In wrapping up the discussion, Coun. Michel responded to the mayor’s comments by saying it doesn’t matter what larger cities like Regina or Saskatoon do, as “that has nothing to do with what we do in Weyburn, Saskatchewan.”

“I find that very funny,” answered the mayor, pointing out that it matters to residents on other policies what other cities are doing, but on the speed limit, it somehow doesn’t matter.

The vote was a tie, so the bylaw will have to come back later in the fall for more discussion