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Council wants city to establish strategy to deter speeders, save lives

Ward 3 Coun. Donna Hilsinger wants Sault Ste. Marie to examine the potential of undertaking a Vision Zero strategy or creating a holistic community road safe strategy and speed management strategy like other communities.

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City council wants staff, police and other stakeholders, to develop a strategy to deal with the growing number of speeding complaints received from across the city.

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Ward 3 Coun. Donna Hilsinger penned a motion noting that the community is becoming more concerned about speeding on city streets, which can lead to higher risk of serious injuries and fatalities for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

She wants Sault Ste. Marie to examine the potential of undertaking a Vision Zero strategy or creating a holistic community road safe strategy and speed management strategy like other communities.

Those strategies include reducing speed limits, implementing automated speed enforcement, improving road design and improving public transportation options and hosting public engagement campaigns.

A Vision Zero strategy is a global movement to end traffic-related fatalities and serous injuries by taking a systemic approach to road safety. Vision Zero takes the view that road deaths and injuries are both unacceptable and preventable.

The concept was first implemented in 1997 in Sweden and has since been adopted by more than 20 cities around the globe. It encompasses everything from the early road design process to offering options that take private vehicles off the road in favor of other active transportation methods.

Hilsinger told The Sault Star that she first learned of the Vision Zero strategy a short time after the City of Toronto adopted it and undertook an educational campaign.

“It’s really about taking a completely holistic approach to the entire transportation system and applying efforts to reduce space and ensure the community is safe for pedestrians, school children, cyclists, those on motorcycles and those in vehicles,” she said.

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Hilsinger said she regularly hears from constituents who are concerned about the increasing speed of motorized traffic in Sault Ste. Marie , adding she shares their concerns.

“There are neighbourhood groups who are struggling with the speed of traffic and the dangers that it poses,” she said.

Traffic enforcement is just one part of the equation and Hilsinger wants to see the city explore other options, including road design that would slow traffic down.

“We need to develop a strategy and get staff to look at this and come back with recommendations and a strategy soon,” she said.

At the very least, Hilsinger said she hopes the future report and recommendations include reducing speeds in residential neighbourhoods.

“I’d like to see that come back to us as a minimum,” she said. “We don’t need to travel 50 km/hour in a residential neighbourhood. We don’t need to go that fast when we’re visiting friends or heading home.”

Hilsinger said council is aware about the concerns of the Foxborough Trail neighbourhood and the traffic calming techniques they wanted to slow traffic down. The P-Patch is also an issue, especially on some streets that have sidewalks on only one side of the street.

Councillors were quick to support the resolution and applauded Hilsinger for her effort. Many called speeding issues the single largest complaint they hear about through phone calls and emails from constituents.

“We’ve had some close calls and some tragedies with pedestrians,” said Ward 4 Coun. Corey Gardi who seconded the motion.

“Speed is a very hot item in this city and I’m glad to have the issue brought forward,” said Ward 4 Coun. Rick Niro.

Hilsinger said she believes this is of interest to the entire community and that there are many who want to see a strategy developed.

“The strategy has to have goals and objectives and they have to be set out clearly and I think there are a number of groups who want to see that happen,” she said. “I look forward to staff returning something back to us that outlines a good strategy, a good plan,” she said.

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