Council hopes specific times will encourage safety and reduce driver confusion

carschoolSignificant changes to Calgary school and playground zone times are coming in September.

At its July 22 meeting , council voted — despite major opposition from Mayor Naheed Nenshi — to change the current playground zone and school zone times from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Coun. Shane Keating said these playground and school zone timing changes are necessary to help decrease driver confusion in the city.

"Motorists will be aware of the statistics, aware of the time and hopefully that will eliminate a number of confusions."

Currently, school zones are in effect from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on school days. As well, playground zones are in effect from 8:30 a.m. to one hour after sunset.

Calgary has 1,510 playground zones and 180 school zones that are between 100 to 200 metres long, which require drivers to slow down to 30 km/h.

The desired effect of this change is that it would help to ensure the safety of children who participate in a variety of after-school activities that occur in the evening.

Nenshi agrees making the start time to earlier for school and playground zones would ensure students' safety, but he is strongly opposed to extending the end time past 7 p.m. signSchool zone signs like this will have a decal covering the alternate times with the new time 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. starting in September. The major reason for changing the school zone and playground times is to alleviate the driver confusion.

Photo by Paulina Liwski

"I feel we're overstepping in making everything 9 p.m.," says Nenshi. "If you have a school that doesn't have an adjacent playground or has a fenced playground that people can't access after school hours why in the world are we keeping that going till 9 p.m?

"In addition, in the winter 9 p.m. is ridiculously late so I'm not sure there has been an epidemic of confused confusion? for people not understanding when the playground and school zones end, so in trying to fix the mornings I wonder if it'll cause any problems in the evening."

In September, phase one of the new bylaw will be rolled out at a cost of $127,000. This would see the city overlay vinyl decals over the existing 4,335 playground and school zone signs throughout Calgary.

The second phase is expected to commence in 2015 at cost of $545,000, which would include a public education campaign, the conversion of school zones to playground zones with input from the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Separate School District and the replacement of 1,800 signs.

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