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Coaldale to use portable electronic speed signs

Posted on May 2, 2017 by Sunny South News

By J.W. Schnarr
For the Sunny South News

Community Standards Bylaw
Council continues to wrestle with some of the proposed rules in Coaldale’s Community Standards Bylaw.
A public hearing on the proposed CSB at council’s regular meeting on Apr. 24 appeared to draw no members of the public and was recessed after a lengthy discussion between council and Director of Emergency Management Mark Murphy. The proposed bylaw would bring eight current bylaws together in order to make the town’s bylaws easier to navigate for both the community and for community peace officers.
There has been limited response from the public on the bylaw. A survey netted 235 comments, but an open house held to share the proposed bylaw details and answer questions with local residents saw only two people show up.
There has also been limited response in the weeks the bylaw has been discussed before council.
While there was some discussion over the age limit for a town curfew and the fines attached to use, possession, and distribution of fireworks within town limits, there was considerable discussion surrounding how the town handles parking for recreation vehicles.
Should the bylaw pass, recreation vehicles would only be allowed to be parked on the street for 72 hours before they would have to be moved. And, while this could surprise some residents and cause some anger regarding the issue, Murphy said the issue was covered by the Traffic Safety Act — provincial laws, which supersede any bylaws the town could attempt to enact.
Coun. Jacen Abrey said the change in the bylaw was intended to help the town deal with Lethbridge residents who park their recreation vehicles in Coaldale, which had become a nuisance in some parts of town.
He also asked about liability issues which could affect the town in the event residents parked their uninsured recreation vehicles on town roads.
Coun. Sherrie Duda said she considered these types of issues something people move to small towns to avoid.
“(Allowing RV parking) is an advantage to living in a small town we’ve been able to offer,” she said.
There was discussion among council about asking Murphy to look into finding a way for council to bypass the Traffic Safety Act if there was deemed a need to allow local residents to have more freedom when it comes to parking their recreation vehicles.
Murphy said since the town cannot pass bylaws that take precedence over provincial statutes, he did not have the legal experience necessary to deal with the issue in that manner.
While originally it was hoped the bylaw would be in place to deal with the upcoming summer holiday season beginning in May, it is unknown how much more discussion needs to take place before resolution for some of these issues can be found.
Portable speed signs
Road safety and reminders about speed limits on Coaldale roads are two of the main reasons the town will be using portable electronic speed signs in the community.
During their regular meeting on Apr. 24, council was provided with an update from Mark Murphy, director of emergency management, on a number of new digital signs which will show drivers how fast they are travelling, as a safety reminder.
Murphy said two solar-powered signs have been purchased and delivered, and are currently being put together by town staff for regular use. Murphy said there are a number of advantages to the types of signs they eventually decided to go with.
“They are programmable by computer,” he said.
“It’s great, because the community peace officers will be able to go around, and, using Bluetooth connections, be able to adjust the speed on the signs as required.”
He said there also may be an opportunity for the signs to collect data on traffic counts, and speeds related to drivers.
“It’s really ideal, because I think up to this point we have a lot of anecdotal evidence from citizens saying they have a lot of traffic in front of their houses,” he said.
“Putting these signs up, we’ll actually get real counts as to what traffic is going down those streets, as well as their speeds.”
CPOs and the Coaldale RCMP will co-ordinate movement of the signs, as well as setting details for the operations of the signs. Town staff will handle the actual moving of the signs, however.
Murphy said there is research indicating the signs are most effective if used in the short term, and the longer they stay in one place, the less people tend to pay attention to them. For this reason, a number of sites around the community have been selected.
“We’re going to have a total of five sites, and we’ll be able to move the signs around every 30 or 45 days, depending on the situation,” said Murphy.
“It gives us some really good flexibility.”
Murphy said some work would be done to inform the public about the purpose of the signs — to educate and remind residents about town speed limits — but also the money used to purchase and maintain the signs has come from photo radar tickets collected in the community.

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