Morinville Traffic Safety Bylaw passes second reading

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Morinville’s new Traffic Safety Bylaw deals with a wide spectrum of traffic issues. One area of concern to Councillors during discussions was rules regarding riding bikes on the sidewalk – permitted on the trails, but prohibited on Town sidewalks. – Morinville News File Photo

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – A new bylaw that will consolidate existing rules while adding a number more made it a little further to becoming Town of Morinville law Jan. 8. Council gave unanimous second reading to the new Traffic Safety Bylaw.

Although the document was reviewed by the RCMP, Community Peace Officers, Public Works, the Traffic Safety Committee and the Town’s executive team, David Schaefer, Morinville’s Director of Corporate Services, is taking the bylaw through three separate readings on three separate nights to make sure the document is worded in such a manner that it will be understandable to the layperson, who must ultimately follow the rules it contains. Additionally, it is believed the three separate readings will provide ample time for the public and council to provide input to tweak the document.

Plenty of input

Although the bylaw has a number of changes from the previous Traffic Bylaw of 2010, Council had a few more changes of their own to bring forward at second reading, leaving administration with the task of correcting typos, clarifying wording and rethinking some of the rules and regulations it is proposing for the new bylaw. Council spent more than an hour asking questions and making recommendations – everything from concerns about people splashing mud on the sidewalks when they wash their cars to overnight parking at the Community Cultural Centre, and even the altruistic nature of residents using their ATVs to clean sidewalks and driveways.

Schaeffer said he was pleased with Council’s thorough input Jan. 8. “The discussions around the various definitions and [suggestions about] adding examples were good,” he said, noting the Council-recommended tweaks will help add particular clarity, something he is looking to achieve with the bylaw.

The 26-page draft bylaw deals with a variety of traffic and parking concerns: parking cars on Main Street, the appropriate amount of time to park a semi within the community, where parking will be allowed for trucks, including 24-hour, 72-hour and restricted parking, and where the trucks routes will be in Morinville. For the latter, trucks will be permitted on 100 Avenue and 100 Street to the Town limits in all directions, 107 Street from 100 Avenue to the Town Shop, 101 Avenue from 100 Street to 107 Street, and in the industrial park area. In all cases, signs will mark where truck routes are in the community.

In addition to dealing with truck routes, parking and merging the Town’s off road vehicle bylaw into the new document, the proposed bylaw contains some additions. One significant change deals with school bus warning lights. The Traffic Act provides municipalities with the option of having buses not use their flashing amber lights. If passed in its present form, the bylaw would require school bus drivers to use the warning lights except when in a designated school loading and unloading area.

But not all aspects of the bylaw deal with four wheeled vehicles. Councillor Lisa Holmes expressed concerns that riding bicycles on Town sidewalks is determined by wheel size rather than the age of the rider. Holmes said her own child’s bicycle exceeds the tire size in the bylaw and she would not entertain allowing him to ride on the road while travelling to the park “I’d rather make the decision if my child is riding on the sidewalk rather than the CPO,” Holmes said, adding she was confused by the allowance of bikes on the trail but not on the sidewalks that are part of the Town’s trail system.

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Sign of the times

Council spent considerable time discussing their thoughts on election signs, something the Traffic Safety Bylaw addresses, and not in a way that would benefit those politicians seeking a return to office this fall. As proposed, the bylaw would prohibit such signs “within 3 m of a highway or road, as measured away from the highway or road starting at the farthest edge of the curb or, where present, the sidewalk.”
This requirement did not meet particularly well with Councillor David Pattison. “I’m trying to visualize where you wind up with election signs,” Pattison said, adding the situation would make it impossible to put the signs on 100 Avenue because of the 3-metre rule. “You’d really be limited because you measure from a curb.”

Pattison was not the only member of Council to express concerns on the election sign component of the bylaw. Schaeffer said he would need to do more research into signage (election and other types) to make sure the bylaw conforms to the Town’s Land Use Bylaw, provincial regulations, but also ensuring the rules meet local needs.

Further feedback sought

The draft bylaw is set to come back to Council for third and final reading Jan. 22. Schaefer is hoping people will take a look at the bylaw and offer their pro and con comments prior to third and final reading so that concerns can be brought to Council for discussion.

At second reading there was only one letter of concern submitted from the public. That letter expressed concerns about overnight parking at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre and the potential for noise. Under existing rules overnight parking is not permitted; however, the new bylaw would provide the opportunity to allow overnight parking in certain circumstances. “It was handy to know that because going forward at least Council has the opportunity to discuss it and make decisions around it,” Schaeffer said of the resident’s letter. “Sometimes it is based on individual feedback.”

But the Town is not just looking for feedback on the things that don’t work; they want to hear about the things people like and want to remain in the document. “Often times we don’t here if everybody is in favour and supportive,” said Morinville’s CAO, Debbie Oyarzun, during a Chamber luncheon discussion of the bylaw Jan. 9. “Then you are at risk of something being potentially changed because we’re not sure that it would work.” Oyarzun said it is important to here from residents on those parts of the bylaw they are strongly in favour of as well.

The draft bylaw can be found in the Jan. 8 Council agenda package. Feedback on the bylaw may be submitted online at http://www.morinville.ca/home/contact-us/chief-administrative-officer.

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