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POLL: Majority oppose 30 km/h speed limits on Newmarket roads

Speeding is a top concern in many neighbourhoods; '...we don’t have a magic wand we can wave. But we have a number of effective tools, and we’ll continue to use them,' says mayor 
2022 05 27 - Speed limit reduction - JQ
Newmarket is piloting 30 km/h speed limits.

More than half of local poll respondents said they are not supportive of putting more 30 km/h speed limits on town roads as the municipality prepares to pilot the idea.

NewmarketToday polling found that 53 per cent of local poll respondents expressed opposition to the idea, with another 11 per cent being unsure. The town is going to pilot the speed with other mitigation measures on Lorne Avenue between Eagle Street and Davis Drive and is considering future public consultation to put it into place on more streets. 

With town council passing the Lorne Avenue speed limit change June 6, we asked our readers: Should speed limits be reduced to 30 km/h on more roads in Newmarket?

Here are the local results:

  • Yes, people are driving too fast in our neighbourhoods. I know of roads on which I'd like to see this implemented —148 local votes, 22 per cent
  • I am unsure. People drive fast but I don't know if a reduced speed limit will make a difference —74 local votes, 11 per cent
  • I do not mind, but would prefer other measures, like speed bumps or bollards, that are more effective — 99 local votes, 15 per cent
  • No, this is a terrible idea. 30 km/h is way too slow and I doubt it would be followed or enforced — 356 results, 53 per cent

The poll ran from June 7 to June 13 and received 683 local responses with a 3.73 per cent margin of error.

The most popular response disagreed with the concept, with residents expressing that the speed would be too slow. Only 22 per cent expressed outright support for the idea, while 11 per cent said they were unsure and 15 per cent expressed that they did not mind lower speed limits. 

Newmarket Mayor John Taylor said speeding and safety matter a lot to citizens. He said the poll reflects the public recognizing the issue's complexity. 

“It’s not an issue that can be solved with one tool or one idea. So I think the town is taking the right approach of piloting and implementing a lot of different speed mitigation tools and strategies,” he said.

The town pilot on Lorne Avenue will also include bike lanes, bollards, and other tools, along with a reduced speed limit. The town targeted the area in part because of its proximity to Stuart Scott Public School, with a downhill leading into it.

But the speed limits have received mixed responses, with some area residents doubting it will be effective.

Taylor said he understands that 30 km/h is a “very, very slow” speed, and they do not want to make limits so low that drivers do not follow them. 

“It’s something that would be introduced in a very specific, unique circumstance,” he said, adding he only voices that as one council member. 

But some other anti-speeding tools could be coming to the fore. York Region council will consider the expansion of its automated speed enforcement program June 15, with cameras placed on roads near school zones. Regional data indicates it did work to reduce speeds, and Taylor said it is a program he favours. 

“For those of you who do not like this, I will not apologize. Speeding in front of schools is never acceptable, and I support every ticket that is issued in this program,” Taylor said on Facebook.

He said Newmarket will likely start considering automated speed enforcement at more town-managed streets early in the next term. 

As for speed limits, Taylor said future consultation would involve public meetings and multiple council discussions.

“We hear the public. They’ve got concerns, and we don’t have a magic wand we can wave. But we have a number of effective tools, and we’ll continue to use them.”