New speed limits in school zones: Drivers get a grace period before the police issue tickets


The speed limit in school zones could be raised to 30 km/h later this month if the City Council passes an updated traffic ordinance at its June meeting.

After the change, it will likely take some time for residents to get used to the new speed limits in school zones. This means that police will educate drivers rather than automatically handing out tickets.

The City Administration presented a comprehensive amendment to the traffic ordinance during the City Council committee meeting on May 27, and the Council unanimously approved the recommendation to consider the bill in three readings at the June 10 regular meeting.

If the ordinance is read unanimously three times, it will go into effect immediately, allowing city workers to begin replacing nearly 600 signs this summer, including 120 signs in school zones, as part of the Safe Routes to School project.

These new signs will impose a speed limit of 30 km/h, seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In the meantime, City Hall will review playground signage this fall and renew and improve signage and pedestrian crossings there in 2025.

Installation of the new signs should be completed before September, when enforcement action will begin.

The regulation also proposes 17 other changes. These include, for example, allowing the city administration to move vehicles so that construction work can be carried out. It also proposes to make general permit requirements and their enforcement more stringent. It also proposes to provide clarity regarding U-turns and no-parking zones. It also proposes to give the city manager more decision-making power and introduce fines.

The entire project is expected to cost $500,000, including $300,000 for sidewalk rehabilitation and pedestrian ramp repairs in school zones and playgrounds, and $200,000 for traffic control, including replacing the 600 signs, completing the Traffic Master Plan (TMP), replacing aging underground lines, and planning for a traffic signal intersection in 2025.

A grace period

TMP and consulting firm KGS Group made it clear to the city council that Moose Jaw was “out of date” with its speed limits in school zones, so both parties worked on an updated traffic ordinance that would provide for reduced speeds, operations manager Bevan Harlton told the city council.

“From discussions with Moose Jaw Police, there will be a grace period where there will be warnings and instructions regarding violations in school zones, but this will be done at their discretion,” he continued.

To publicize these changes, City Hall and the Police will issue public notices to ensure that citizens are aware of the installation and commissioning of new signs, that the new speed limits are in effect, and that the Police will provide a grace period before officially enforcing the new speed limits.

Addressing security concerns

Police Chief Rick Bourassa has confirmed there will be a “grace period” when the new signs go into effect, Councilman Doug Blanc said. However, the councilman wondered if there would also be a grace period at the SGI-operated automated speed camera near William Grayson School.

Blanc said he wanted the speed limit changed because he drove past the school twice recently and noticed vehicles parked too close to the crosswalk, preventing other drivers from seeing children crossing the street.

“If the kids drop out, you don’t have time,” he added.

Staff Sergeant Cam Lewis confirmed that police will update the camera and begin enforcing the new limit and issuing tickets starting September 1, or the first day of school.

Charging vs. Parking

Council member Jamey Logan said the city will be changing some signs in school zones from no parking signs to no stopping signs, which makes him wonder if there will still be loading zones and if kids will have to duck and roll out of their car doors when they arrive.

There will continue to be loading zones next to the school buildings and there will be ongoing parking and traffic control measures around the properties, Harlton confirmed.

Paint zebra crossings

However, painting crosswalks will not be considered a project expense because those costs are covered by the city's ongoing operating budget, he continued. Instead, painting crosswalks will be done as part of City Hall's overall effort to align with national standards.

Harlton added that City Hall will work with schools on this project and try to take their traffic and safety needs into account.

Blanc asked if workers would repaint the crosswalks regularly, since City Hall typically paints lines and then leaves them until they fade. In addition, he wondered if the city would put more physical crosswalks in school zones, since many school principals have told him those access points don't exist.

“Crosswalks are one of the first markings we do on public works projects. From an operational perspective, this project would not cause a change in the schedule of that work…” Harlton said. “However, we have not yet discussed how we would improve our marking system and what that might cost.”

In addition, the city will add 39 pedestrian ramps in school zones, focus on reducing speeds in those areas, ensure uniformity in signage and maintain the number of corridors for students to cross, he added.

Councilwoman Heather Eby was excited about the installation of new signs because they would look better and be more uniform and standardized than the 12 no-turn signs in a school zone today. She also felt it was important to reduce speeds now rather than waiting for a collision and then rushing to change everything afterward.

“I can now confidently maintain the speed reduction … (and) I look forward to removing these ridiculous signs that we have,” Eby added.

The next board meeting will be on Monday, June 10th.