This past summer, Ottawa City Council agreed to change all of Sandy Hill south of Laurier Ave to a 40 km/h zone. This was made possible by a change in provincial legislation that was implemented just before the end of term of the previous provincial Liberal government. The Province currently mandates that the default unposted speed limit on all municipal streets is 50 km/h. To establish a 40 km/h zone previously required 40 km/h signs to be erected every several hundred metres on every single street in a designated area. The new rules allow signs to be posted just on entry to and exit from the designated area, reducing dramatically the amount of signage (and the cost) that otherwise would have been required.
Ottawa City council moved quickly to take advantage of the provincial change and, under these new rules, Sandy Hill became the first designated area with a 40 km/h speed limit in the city. A sign that says “40 km/h area begins” has been installed on all streets turning south off Laurier Avenue East, turning east off King Edward Avenue between Laurier and Mann, and on the feeder roads to Mann Avenue. Another set of signs “40km/h area ends” is installed on those streets just before exiting onto Laurier Avenue East, King Edward Avenue and the feeder roads to Mann Avenue. The City plans to roll these 40 km/h areas out to other neighbourhoods throughout the city implementing one new area in each ward every year for the next several years.
Will this result in actual reduction in drivers’ speeds within Sandy Hill? It will give the police more opportunities to write speeding tickets and we can hope that this combination of signage and enforcement will contribute to a change in driving culture inside residential neighbourhoods, one that is more respectful of the residents who live there.