40 km/h for ward 2 - then maybe for all of Burlington - with rumblings of a 30 km/h rule in the minds of some Councillors

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

May 4th, 2021



If you thought the private tree bylaw was a hoot – wait till you get the full story on the plans and some council member thoughts on the speed limits for Burlington Streets.

A Staff Direction was tabled, debated and sent along to Council – every ember of Council voted for it.  It reads:

Direct the Director of Transportation Services to prepare for the approval of Council, the necessary by-laws amending Traffic By-law 86-2007 to include provisions for Designated Speed Limit Areas; and Approve a 40km/h speed limit for all streets within the area bordered by Lakeshore Road, Brant Street, Baldwin Street and Maple Avenue

This goes to council on the 18th

Among the reasons for this are: Improve integrated city mobility.

Ward 2 streets speed limits

Map of the area that will limit speed to 40 kph

While the Staff Direction focuses on ward 2, the intention of several members of council was to eventually make it city wide with consideration being given to a 30 kp/h rule.

Speed limits within Ontario municipalities are regulated by the Highway Traffic Act (HTA). Included amongst the many things prescribed within the HTA is a default speed limit of 50 km/h on roadways without the presence of speed limit signs. Roads with a speed limit other than 50 km/h require a Council approved by-law and for signs to be posted to reflect that speed.

Traffic By-law 86-2007 contains a Rate of Speed Schedule listing all Burlington roads with a speed limit other than 50 km/h. Changes to the Rate of Speed Schedule are occasionally required. These changes are typically based on the recommendations of staff and are accompanied by an amending by-law for the consideration of Council.

How does a community get a speed reduction for their streets?  Just ask said Jeff Black,  Manager of Traffic Operations and Signals.

Speed Limit Policy

Burlington’s Speed Limit Policy is a corporate policy intended to guide the review and establishment of speed limits on Burlington roads. The current version of the policy was approved in 2012 and includes a methodology based on the Canadian Guidelines for Establishing Posted Speed Limits developed by the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC).

The use of these guidelines when reviewing existing speed limits has created consistency and has ultimately led to the reduction of speed limits on hundreds of roadways throughout the city since it was adopted. Further, these guidelines support the concept of integrated mobility as it takes into consideration the safety and risk of all road users.

Designated Speed Limit Areas
Recent amendments to the HTA allow municipalities to set a speed limit other than 50 km/h on roadways within a designated area, often a neighbourhood with defined boundaries. Once designated and assigned a speed limit (such as 40 km/h), all roadways within that area will have the speed limit specified. Speed limit signs are then only required at entry/exit points to the defined area.

The benefits of this method of establishing reduced speed limits include a reduction of the number of signs required to post a speed limit as well as creating consistency throughout a given neighbourhood with a goal to increase compliance by drivers.

The introduction of an ‘area-wide’ method of setting speed limits aligns well with the City’s approach to reviewing speed limits and the ever-increasing number of roadways in residential areas with a 40 km/h speed limit.

Recognizing that Designated Speed Limit Areas may be applicable to other neighbourhoods throughout the city as a method of reducing speed limits, staff have incorporated it into the updated Speed Limit Policy that is being recommended for approval by Council.  The policy is appended to the end of the article; more on that below.

Proposed Designated Speed Limit Area
Transportation Services staff have received a request to investigate the speed limits on roads within Ward 2 between Caroline Street and Birch Avenue, west of Brant Street with a view to create consistency with existing sections of road in the neighbourhood posted at 40 km/h.

In light of the recent HTA amendments and the authority now given to municipalities to designate areas for a reduced speed limit, staff broadened the study area to include roads north of Lakeshore Road, west of Brant Street, south of Baldwin Street and east of Maple Avenue/hydro corridor. Attachment 1 illustrates the study area and the streets with an existing 40 km/h speed limit.

Vito 2 Sept 2019

Vito Tolone, Director of Transportation Services is going to have to stick handle this one. He’s done it before.

A further review of speed limits on the 50 km/h roads was conducted by staff using the speed limit review methodology identified within the current Speed Limit Policy. The results revealed most roads met the criteria for a 40 km/h speed limit, based primarily on the short block length, spacing of existing stop signs, presence of on-street parking and the high number of driveway accesses.

Given these results and taking into consideration the number of roads currently posted at 40 km/h, staff recommend the implementation of the city’s first designated speed limit area.

speed limit signs

Imagine signs like this with a 30 km/h wording – everywhere in the city.

If approved by Council, staff will provide an amending by-law for the approval of Council that incorporates designated speed limit areas and includes the above described area in Ward 2.

Implementation will also include installing signs at entry and exit points to the designated neighbourhood.

Speed Limit Policy Update
The inclusion of Designated Speed Limit Areas into the city’s Speed Limit Policy has provided staff with the opportunity to update the overall policy.

In general, staff are not recommending any significant changes to the policy that would lead to speed limit modifications in the field.  Council might not go along with the staff position.  If the comments made by Councillor Stolte get any traction a 30 km/h rule might get put in place.

To put something this controversial on the table a year before council members can begin their re-election campaigns suggest there are some tin ears on this council

The updates to the policy have been made to align it with corporate policy authoring guidelines, remove references to technical or procedural elements, strengthen policy statements related to where speed limits are to be reduced throughout the city (i.e. schools and parks) and to update references to applicable legislation.

Options Considered
Given the prescriptive nature of the Highway Traffic Act, there are not many options available with respect to establishing speed limits. The Designated Speed Limit Areas recommended in this report is an alternative to the traditional street-by-street method of setting speed limits.

“As part of the process of implementing a speed limit change, staff routinely provide notification to residents affected by the change.”

Can you imagine the blow back from those notices?

Assuming Council approves the plans for ward 2 on the 18th, it was approved unanimously at Standing Committee, hear is what the policy change will look like. It would get reviewed on  May 1, 2026

“This policy provides guidance in the review and implementation of speed limits on roadways under City of Burlington jurisdiction.

Policy Statement:
“The City of Burlington recognizes the importance of reviewing and establishing speed limits on roadways that are safe, appropriate and consistent. In doing so, the following citywide speed limit policies shall be in effect:

Mohawk GArdens Public school

Slower in school locations

Speed Limit on Roads with School Frontage
“Local and collector roads containing school frontage will have a speed limit of 40 km/h

“Arterial roads with school frontage will have reduced speed limit during school times identified by signs and/or flashing beacons

Speed Limit on Roads with Parks
“Roads containing parks with playgrounds, play fields or other equipment utilized primarily by children will have a speed limit of 40 km/h

Reduced Speed Limit Areas
“Specific areas may be designated for a reduced speed limit through a by-law approved by Council.

Speed Limit Review Methodology
“City staff will use the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) guidelines, attached as Appendix A when reviewing speed limits on roads.

Speed Limit Signage
“Signs will adhere to the regulations of the Highway Traffic Act and the guidelines provided in the Ontario Traffic Manual.

“Speed limits will be set in accordance with the Highway Traffic Act The Rates of Speed schedule of the city’s Traffic By-law will contain a consolidation of roads and their speed limit and may be amended periodically through a by-law passed by Council.

“This policy applies to the review of speed limits on roadways under the City’s jurisdiction by staff within the Transportation Services Department.

Burlington crest - with city reference“The objectives of this policy are to formalize and document citywide speed limit practices and to establish a methodology for the review and implementation of speed limits that is consistent and representative of the function of a particular roadway.”

Pretty clear policy – now change that 40 km/h to 30 km/h and tell us what you think about that idea ?  If this comes about it will make the private tree bylaw look like very small potatoes.

Stand by.

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11 comments to 40 km/h for ward 2 – then maybe for all of Burlington – with rumblings of a 30 km/h rule in the minds of some Councillors

  • David Barker

    Why the debate about who causes accidents – drivers or pedestrians. It’s irrelevant.

    In an accident whether at 50km or 40km or 30km, what is for sure is the car driver is far less likely to suffer injury than is the pedestrian.

    The inconvenience to drivers of a reduced speed is negligible. The difference in journey time will be very small.

    Steve, it doesn’t matter how many pedestrians have been hit in the prescribed area. The point is to mitigate the risk of it happening. One injured pedestrian, even if the pedestrian is at fault, is one too many.

  • Steve

    How about some statistics on how many pedestrians have been hit by cars on main streets and side streets. How bad is this problem? I’ve asked this before but it was not posted.

  • Helene skinner

    Chris, I disagree with you. People are constantly stepping off curbs with their focus on their phones and do not take a second to look both ways (as we were taught as children). We all share the road…we all need to do our part to ensure safety.

    • Chris Ariens

      People are doing that, yes. Not smart, you could be hurt or killed when you’re not paying utmost attention to what you’re doing. Again, that human being thing. But people are also driving with their focus on their phones, which can kill other people! A recent survey showed that 25% of 18-24’s have admitted to watching **videos** while driving!

      Distracted and drunk driving are among the biggest killers on the roads along with speed. Those are the things that need to be focused on and eradicated.

      Did you notice that car manufacturers are making cars & trucks bigger, so the drivers can’t even see a short adult, never mind a child, directly in front of them? That they are putting on bull bars and huge grilles to make them look intimidating to appeal to that GTFO of my way mentality. They are putting more & bigger screens and entertainment devices in the car to distract drivers from their responsibility. Many people are buying larger trucks and SUVs because they perceive danger from other drivers, and causing more dangers for everyone else in doing so. We all need to do our part for sure but the primary responsibility is with the operator of the two ton missiles barreling down our streets.

  • Chris Ariens

    Really this shouldn’t be controversial at all. The proposal is to make streets inside the residential neighbourhoods (not arterials like Brant/Lakeshore) by default 40km/h. Most of the streets, as you can see in the map, are already maximum 40km/h.

    From a physics standpoint, 30km/h is the ideal maximum speed for safety of residents in residential areas. Someone hit by a car at 30km/h has about a 10% chance of dying in a collision, vs. someone hit by a car going 40km/h who would have a 30% chance of dying. Getting there will require a considerable culture change in Burlington. When it comes to our roads, we’re used to driving speed and convenience being a priority, so there is always a large amount of pushback when considering changes, even though changes to the way we build and design our streets will save lives and save tax dollars in the long run.

    Enforcement is a different issue, and likely will continue to be until cars are governed by GPS controlled speed limiters. We don’t have the resources to have a cop on every street corner enforcing compliance with the speed limit, nor would most of us want that.


    • Denise W.

      ” From a physics standpoint, ” Why assume the person will be struck? Why not assume a person will not be stupid and walk into oncoming traffic. Approach this from a mental competency angle rather than assuming incompetence.

      • Chris Ariens

        Human beings being human make mistakes. The idea is that making a mistake is much less likely to mean a death sentence, especially for children.

        Most road deaths and injuries are caused by driver incompetence, not by pedestrian incompetence. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding the #1 factor associated with drivers involved in fatal crashes.

  • Susan Corrigan

    This is a good preventive measure if it flys. The timing at all lights is not long enough for challenged seniors to cross. 40 kph will just mean that drivers will go 55+ kph on these streets. Lakeshore at Spencer’s is bad as drivers gun it as soon as they get past burlington street trying to beat the lights.

  • Diane Knox

    Well, We do have a problem. The City and Province have given in and intensified with Condos all with a need for cars to get basic goods in Downtown So we have more cars on the road. trying to get home, buy groceries, No major shopping store, and struggling to avoid the congestion on what was once access roads.

    .And it still goes on- Coming to a Ward close to You. Check the ” future plans” for Ward 5/4 and the stress on Appleby Line – The most travelled, most dangerous N/S road in Burlington-( Go, QEW, Dundas etc.) Major East Access road to South East Burlington.

    No transit system, No speed Limits, bike lanes, and no Police can reverse the Design of this city–“A Suburban Easy Commute- car in a driveway ,carports, garage, courts and Cres. etc.”) 1960.. Realtor ads. And so we came.

    . Now we are left with A New speed limit– ” Cars on the Road” . My top speed on Lakeshore from Appleby to Hospital at 5pm.- 10 Km, time 30 mins. Just a thought for City Council/ Planners and Toronto’s “in and out” builders. and the Province? I just am grateful that it was not an Emergency this time.

  • You are right about “suicide timing” Pepper. And so is Samanthat bad driving habits should be a topic of discussion at all times to protect Burlington lives. The last election saw Anne’s involvement in all four municipality electon processes. We could not believe that the number 1 Oakville election topic was too many speeding tickets issued! The number one topic all Halton municipalities should be addressing at this point in time is how do we support and protect our local businesses, particularly in the downtowns who always seem to have economic issues. REMOVE THE BUSINESS ASSOCIATION FEES WOULD BE A GOOD STARTING POINT – TOO MUCH FOR TOO LITTLE RIGHT NOW!

  • Samantha

    If speeding is the factor, please could someone take some time to plan for the hours needed to have Police in the presance of side roads. Not only do people speed, but also run stop signs. With nothing to do and no where to go, the community is outside walking and biking. And with the nice weather, comes crazy drivers. I live in Ward 6, and its now unsettling the number of traffic violations.
    Remeber the yellow Slow down signs? I guess they dont work either…..