Local resident calls on Council to reduce speed limit in town

April 18, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

There was a sense of déjà vu in the room at Orangeville Council on Monday evening (April 15), with a second delegation in as many months imploring the community’s elected officials to install a community-wide speed limit here in town. 

Ron Lehman has lived in his home on Elizabeth Street for decades. Addressing Council this week, the 87-year-old local resident advocated for a 30km/h speed limit to be enacted in town.

“I know some cities across North America and across Europe have done this,” Mr. Lehman said. “This is something that is long overdue. Where I live, we have some guys flying by going 100km/h. These cars today are fast.”

Ron told Council how his house will shake every time a vehicle flies by at excessive speeds, particularly when that particular route along Elizabeth is being used by transport trucks. 

“Where I sit and watch TV isn’t 45 feet from the street. Cars fly by on a regular basis, do you know what that sounds like, what that feels like? I’m not here to whine and complain, I’m here (to instill change),” Mr. Lehman said. “Speeding doesn’t mean a thing to people today. This is something we can control. If we let this level of speeding and recklessness to continue, it will become the norm for how neighbourhoods are lived in.”

Alongside his request to lower the speed limit, Mr. Lehman asked Council to consider installing “larger, brighter signs” in a last ditch attempt to encourage local drivers to slow down on the residential road.

Just last month a coalition of Orangeville residents approached Council in an attempt to reduce speed limits in various residential areas across the community. Drive Safe Orangeville was formed at the back end of 2018 and has quickly grown to include more than a dozen members. The group has been rallying the community to get behind the implementation of a 40km/h speed limit in Orangeville. 

Mr. Lehman, however, wanted to go one step further, by reducing the speed limit, which currently sits at 50km/h unless otherwise posted, even more. There didn’t appear to be much appetite amongst Council to entertain the request.

Coun. Todd Taylor informed Mr. Lehman that he, personally, was involved in at least six different projects surrounding community safety efforts and indicated the Elizabeth Street resident might have more luck garnering support of Council if he rallies the community behind his cause.

“One of the things I have learned is that, to show up by yourself and ask for something to be done doesn’t always work. Have you thought about a petition?” Mr. Taylor asked.

Mr. Lehman noted he had been involved in numerous petitions in the past. In fact, back in 2015, he successfully lobbied the municipal government of the day to reduce to speed limit on Elizabeth Street from 50km/h down to 40km/h. 

“I’ve been working on this for 15 years. I have done petitions. I’m 87-years-old now. Do you think I want to be walking up and down that street (asking for signatures),” Mr. Lehman retorted. 

Coun. Grant Peters has been a vocal proponent for improving road safety, for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, since he was elected. He indicated there were things coming down the pipeline that could help Mr. Lehman’s issue. 

“I know the downtown core can sometimes be dicey with regards to traffic. I’m not too far away (from Elizabeth Street). We’ve had a number of issues come to us and my personal belief is that a wider scope needs to be put to this. We have new activist groups starting up, a new trails master plan on the horizon. The approach of Council should be to look at this with a wide lens.

He added, “If that happens to be a town-wide speed limit, more of an educational effort, they need to be addressed on a town-wide basis. One thing I can guarantee is you have seven interested parties around this table committed to community safety. I’m just asking for a bit of patience. We’re tasked with taking a higher level look at this situation. The issue is not going away and we do need to work on it.”

Mayor Sandy Brown informed Mr. Lehman that Council would “try to implement things moving forward that will help address this situation”.

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