Work continues on City safety plan for parks

The Yorkton Council has unanimously given the go-ahead to continue a Community Safety Play Zone Review, after hearing an update at its regular meeting Monday.

“In September of 2019, City Council directed Administration to develop a strategy to establish safe play zones at City parks. Unfortunately, this update was delayed due staffing changes and COVID19, because facilities were forced to close and community stakeholders were not available for discussion. However, this gave us the opportunity to review the request in more detail,” stated Darcy McLeod Director of Community Development, Parks and Recreation with the City at the meeting.

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“The goal of this review is to establish a consistent safety standard for play zones across the City to provide children and families safe access to public play zones in our community. The results would be clearly marked safe play zones and a communication strategy that provide drivers with clear expectations of how to drive in these areas and ensure safe pedestrian access to these spaces.”

McLeod did note this was something the City wanted to do, and was not a required exercise.

For example, in Saskatchewan, no set law requires municipalities to have speed limits for parks and play areas.

According to The City of Yorkton Traffic Bylaw, “the speed limit in any school zone or recreation area marked by appropriate signage is 40 km/hr between the hours of 8:00 am and 8:00 pm”, said McLeod.

McLeod said other centres have done work in regards to safety.

“After further research, Administration discovered that the City of Calgary conducted a study of their school and playground zones in September of 2017. The results from a survey showed that only 58 percent of respondents knew the exact start time of school and playground zones, whereas 73 percent knew the end time. More than 80 percent of the respondents find it easier to remember the zone times with single-zone type that is consistent throughout the year. For our review, it would be best to not only review our park and playground zones but also our school zones,” he said.

Further, according to the City of Saskatoon’s School Zone Webpage, they have indicated the following when it comes to youth and vehicles:

*Young children tend to think cars can stop instantly.

*Children believe that if they can see your car, you can see them.

*Children under the age of 10 do not accurately judge vehicle speed or distance.

*Vehicle-pedestrian accidents involving children tend to result in serious injury or death.

It is important to remember that children perceive things differently due to their present stage of development, said McLeod noting:

*Children are easily distracted.

*Children do not always pay attention.

*Children are small and are more likely to sustain fatal injuries when they are hit at any type of speed.

*Children do not see cars coming.

McLeod said it is important the community be part of the process.

This is a community safety issue and using a collaborative approach in this review will generate community buy-in and a better chance of success. Therefore, Administration would continue with this review by working with the Yorkton Active Transportation Collaborative and further include the City’s Protective Services Committee, Engineering and Asset Management Department, Public Works Department, Bylaw Services and the R.C.M.P., he said.

“In order to ensure consistency in play zones, a review of the school zones should be completed as part of this review. Therefore, the Christ the Teacher Catholic School Division and Good Spirit School Division, along with their applicable School Community Councils, will be included to obtain input and feedback,” continued McLeod.

A public engagement survey will also be developed, which would allow all residents the opportunity to provide feedback.

“This report was presented to the Community Development, Parks and Recreation Committee (CDPR) at their Oct. 13, meeting, where they fully supported the process and intended outcomes. They did have some thoughts for consideration as part of the process,” added McLeod.

Once the review is complete, the recommendations will be brought back to the CDPR Committee for feedback and then forwarded for Council consideration.

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