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One year after fatal collision, Regina council has final say on lower speed limit in Cathedral

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Regina city councillors are set to consider lowering the speed limit in the Cathedral neighbourhood to 30 kilometres per hour on Wednesday.

Five delegations, representing SGI, the University of Regina and the Cathedral Village Community Association are set to speak, along with two other citizens, one for, one against.

“High speed traffic has long been a concern in the Cathedral community,” said Jonathan Lorenc in a submission for the community association. “Even 40 years ago as part of the 1986 Cathedral Area Parking and Traffic Study, neighbours endorsed the need ‘to moderate or reduce the volume and speed of traffic through the neighbourhood where possible.’”

Lorenc goes on to describe the 40 businesses that line 13th Ave. along with a library branch, two parks, several churches and more, noting that all of these amenities create “vibrancy” and attract tons of foot traffic.

“For that vibrancy to continue sustainably, residents must feel safe and comfortable enjoying those amenities,” Lorenc said.

The proposal is being brought forward as a ‘Vision Zero’ policy, a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, originally developed in Sweden in the 1990s.

Regina’s specific goal with the policy is to reduce fatal and major injury traffic collisions by a minimum of 10 per cent within five years.

Despite being one of Regina’s busier pedestrian neighbourhoods, Cathedral is not immune to the risk vehicles can pose. The policy will face a council vote one year, plus a day, since a 16-year-old boy crossing 13th Ave. was hit and killed by vehicle in the early the morning of April 23, 2023.

Dendrae Thunder Lonechild was a Grade 10 student at Sheldon Williams Collegiate.

It’s one of many similar stories in the city. According to data collected for a report included in the council packet, there were 384 collisions between vehicles and pedestrians involving injuries or fatalities between 2015 and 2019.

There were also 211 crashes involving cycling that resulted in death or bodily harm during the same time period.

“These two groupings are considered vulnerable road users given their high risk of injury or death when involved in a collision with a motor vehicle,” said Vanessa Mathews, an associate professor of Geography and Environmental studies at the U of R. “It is clear that lowering the speed limit to 30km/h will lower the potential for major injury and death.”

If passed, the city plans to invest $23.5 million in the initiative over a five-year period.

One Regina resident who wants to see the policy deferred is Denise Stevens, who would rather see the money invested into sidewalks along Saskatchewan Drive among other projects.

“Some seem to be in denial that we are still very much a car-based culture in Regina, due to many factors including an ailing transit system and inclement weather for six months of the year,” Stevens said in her submission. “It appears that pedestrians and cyclists are not being asked to make any changes to their behaviour, it is all falling to vehicular traffic.”

According to city data, research has indicated that lowering the speed limit to 30 kilometres per hour will add approximately 77 seconds to a commuter’s driving time.

“I would suggest that my life, or the life of my son, or any pedestrian’s life, is worth 77 seconds of additional time in a vehicle,” said Nicole Strandlund, a neighbourhood resident. “I would also note here that Cathedral is not simply a thoroughfare, it is our home.”

SGI’s Director of Traffic Safety Community Outreach Troy Corbett said he commends the City of Regina for their efforts to enhance roadway safety.

“SGI shares the vision statement that no loss of life or major injury is acceptable within Regina's transportation network,” said in his submission. “The vision is a high-level aspirational one, but attainable.”

The executive committee has recommended that city council pass the Vision Zero approach for Cathedral.

Council will discuss the proposal among other agenda items starting 1 p.m. Wednesday.

--With files from Mick Favel and Donovan Maess.

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