OTTAWA -- Ottawa's transportation committee unanimously approved a plan that would lower speed limits in parts of Vanier, Sandy Hill and Lowertown to 30 km/h.

The plan allows the city to create "gateway" zones to lower the speed limit on several streets in those neighbourhoods.

"The lower speed limits are an important tool to prioritize slower speeds in residential areas to make them more livable," Rideau-Vanier councillor Mathieu Fleury said in a report prepared for Wednesday's committee meeting.

"All residential areas and community associations are asking for lower speeds in residential streets. As residential streets are redone it is the unique time to implement the permanent measures. We have seen a number of tools implemented through the neighbourhood seasonal traffic calming measures that allow for warmer months measure to be in effect. In this frame of mine, posted lower speed limits do set the tone for more livable residential areas."

The plan will next rise to full city council on May 12. If approved, roads in the areas bound by the following streets would have the new speed limit:

  1. Vanier Parkway to the East, Cantin Street to the West, Beechwood Avenue to the North and Montreal Road to the South; and
  2. North River Road to the East, Greensway Avenue to the West, Lenore Place to the North and Mark Avenue to the South; and
  3. King Edward Avenue to the East, Range Road to the West, Laurier Avenue East to the North and Lees Avenue to the South; and
  4. King Edward Avenue to the East, Charlotte Street to the West, Rideau Street to the North and Laurier Avenue East to the South; and
  5. Sussex Drive to the West, King Edward Avenue to the East, Murray Street to the North and Rideau Street to the South; and
  6. Sussex Drive to the West, King Edward Avenue to the East, Boteler Street to the North and St. Patrick Street to the South.

Committee chair councillor Tim Tierney told reporters after the meeting that speeding is the most common call to councillors' offices, but simply changing the speed limit is only part of the solution.

"You have to do more than just change the sign. You also have to change the street. You have to make the conditions so people will actually slow down," he said.

Phil Landry, director of traffic services, echoed Tierney's comments, saying changing drivers' expectations is part of the goal.

"Our experience is just changing the number on the signs doesn't really impact the operating speeds," he said. "We need to change that environment, itself."

New roads in new developments or any redeveloped roads in residential areas are automatically built with a 30 km/h speed limit in mind, he said.

"You would see raised intersections, narrowing at intersections, speed humps, things like that, to try to get those speeds down to 30."

Landry said the goal is to have a 30 km/h speed limit on as many residential streets in the city as possible.

"Ultimately, that's where all our residential streets will be," he said. "We just want to make sure that we provide that environment so that cars travel at 30 kilometres per hour… when the streets aren't built to that, we look at narrowing the entryways to create that environment. We use paint and flexposts and things like that to create that narrow feeling to let people know when they see the sign that it's 30 and they need to travel at that speed."

Signage for the new 30 km/h gateway zones in Vanier, Lowertown and Sandy Hill would cost $30,400, according to the report, and would be funded in part through the city traffic service's budget and through the ward's temporary traffic calming budget.

It would cost an estimated $98,600 to modify the entrance widths to each of the six gateway zones. The report states this could be funded from future Ward 12 temporary traffic calming budgets subject to council approval.