This week, the matter of street activities and road safety has been hotly discussed via social media.
Please allow me to preface this week’s “Councillor’s View”: I love hockey. On quiet days in the office, you can often find me donning my Ottawa Senator’s jersey. I reflect quite warmly on my days as a youth growing up in Ottawa playing broomball and ball hockey on quiet residential streets. They were some of my best memories.
And as Chair of the Ottawa Public Board of Health, supporting healthy active lifestyles for youth is just as important to me as the policies aimed at ensuring the physical safety of children in the City of Ottawa.
But as times shift, so do perspectives. Quiet streets are not as calm as they once were in another age and the dangers associated with speeding and distracted driving have never been more worrisome.
I wholeheartedly support children in their pursuit of healthy living and would never try to steal away Canada’s past-time. However, as a parent, my first concern will always be to make sure that the freedom of my children does not impede upon their safety.
Working with safer roads Ottawa for the last two years, I’ve implemented a “Slow Down for Us” campaign that encourages drivers on residential streets to slow down and keep an eye out for children who may be playing on the road. Especially as the weather gets warmer and children begin to play outside more, it is very important that drivers are diligent and obey speed limits and exercise caution especially when driving through residential streets. We all have to do our part to make our streets safer for everyone.
In addition to the Slow Down for Us program, the City will also be installing flex signs in the middle of some roads where speeding is a concern. It’s important to note that the City is legally permitted to install these signs and that they are properly installed in the ground to prevent injury or damage. Last weekend, there were two instances that I am aware of, of items being placed in the road thereby blocking vehicle access. I urge residents to please respect the rules and not place items on the street, as doing so is a public safety hazard and can impede the flow of traffic.
When the topic of personal traffic calming objects was originally raised, it was a concern regarding the obstruction of residential streets, not a concern regarding children’s right to participate in road hockey.
Presently, by-law prohibits children from playing on the street; however, in accordance with a policy passed by Council in 2007 which I supported, street activities such as hockey are permitted. I am aware of the confusion this may cause and will continue to investigate this matter further to ensure there is consistency in the City by-laws.
I trust that parents make, and will continue to make, good judgement calls when it comes to where they allow their children to play and that a balance may be found between the necessity of public safety and Canada’s favourite past-time.
For a full outline of the report in question, please see pg 2.