Council passes amendment creating four new School Zones

Herald file photo.

With school starting in the coming weeks, Prince Albert City Council has passed amendments to the traffic bylaw creating three new school zones.

The schools in the motion were Queen Mary Public School on 15th Street West, École St. Anne’s School on 6th Avenue West, Princess Margaret School on 4th Street East and Riverside School on River Street East. The new 30 km/hr speed limit will be in effect from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., September to June.

“It originally came from the police commission to council asking to make all schools school zones,” Mayor Greg Dionne explained. “All schools, because we have quite a few that are not school zones.”

The amendments were required because of a previous resolution passed in January, 2023. Both the Saskatchewan Rivers and Prince Albert Catholic School Divisions boards of education were consulted during the last school year.

On June 22, 2022, the Board of Police Commissioners stated in a letter to the City of Prince Albert that they were ‘deeply concerned with the potential of vehicle pedestrian accidents’. The Board requested that the Council consider amending City bylaws to restrict school zone speeds to 30 kilometres per hour.

The report shows three schools in the Catholic Division where drivers are not required to reduce speeds. These include 15th Avenue East along Ecole Holy Cross and St. John Community School and Sixth Avenue West along Ecole St. Anne. The City of Prince Albert assesses all school zones using the Transportation Association of Canada and School Zone and Area Study Matrix.

“Everybody went through it and looked at it and some were obvious,” Dionne said. “The four were, of course, Queen Mary’s on 15th street, strictly because people may not know that at the end of 15th Street it goes to Highway 302 and that’s our largest deposit of gravel and we probably have four or five of our developers and gravel companies that own out there. Doing this is an area where there’s heavy gravel trucks coming and talking to some of the drivers. They kind of like the idea strictly because if somebody runs up under them and they get going they are like a train, they need some distance to stop, so that was an obvious one.”

Dionne also noted that River Street location near Riverside is a faster arterial road, which also caused concerns.

“At the end of the day it’s, it’s not a big request to me,” Dionne said. “It could be as I’m sitting in my vehicle so I have to slow down or if I have to wait for someone to go to across the crosswalk I’m sitting down and I’m in no rush. I think all it’s about is the safety of our children.”

Although the new bylaws are in place, the rules won’t be enforced until the City can put up signs notifying drivers about the school zone.

“The reason that we did it now is in two to three weeks, school will start back,” Dionne said. “We’re going to continue to review it and then you did hear some discussion during our process of asking the general public what they thought.”

During discussion, Ward 6 Coun. Blake Edwards was in agreement with the move with the schools in question. However, he brought up Holy Cross as another school to be looked at as a place to make safer because it is a dangerous intersection.

“I hope we don’t forget about certain areas now that we have made some adjustments, positive adjustments, I know that we can’t do it all at one time,” Edwards said.

Ward 5 Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick agreed that the intersection was in need of some change especially in the morning and at the end of the school day.

“They are supervised to the best of the staff’s ability but it is a dangerous intersection,” he said. “The other thing that I think we should maybe start thinking about with these school grounds is extending it past 5:00. Quite often in the spring and fall and even in the summer there are kid’s around. In fall and in spring there is all kinds of sporting activities that are taking place and there are a lot of kids.”

Ogrodnick requested that administration look into extending these hours to 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. Dionne agreed with Ogrodnick but in his remarks noted how excellent the school patrols are for Holy Cross. As a frequent driver of the area in the morning Dionne noted that it can be backed up to 22nd Street waiting to get through the intersection.

“That wasn’t initially part of the review but they will be putting it in as part of the review and see what other cities are doing and talk to the school divisions,” Dionne said.

“We’re looking at all the schools,” he added.

The motion was passed unanimously by council.