On May 8th, Councillor Cartmell put forward a motion that was unanimously approved. It asked administration to look the "Alberta Transportation Guideline for Schools and Playground Zones and Areas" and evaluate all of the newly established playground zones against those criteria.
That report has come back in and it's a doozy. It suggests that if that the guideline council asked administration to use was employed in practice, that would result in the removal of 68 playground zones.
The provincial guideline suggests scoring playgrounds with their scoring sheet, requiring a score of 80 to be established as a 30km/h zone. Most of the score comes down to how many children the playground has capacity for, which is measured solely in equipment size. If it doesn't have play equipment, it's not going to make the cut.
Interestingly, and running contrary to the common understanding, fencing doesn't matter a tonne. The guideline only adds ten points (out of 100) for not having a fence. What makes or breaks the ranking is road classification, playground capacity and distance from the road.
For example, if there's a field with some basketball courts, soccer fields, a hill to go tobogganing on and the whole area has no fence at all and is directly adjacent to the roadway with no separation or sidewalks... such an area would be impossible to qualify as a playground zone under the provincial guidelines. You lose 32/100 points for not having swings or a jungle gym.
You can view the full list, but the following is a highlight reel of some of the playground zones that appear.
There's this playground zone, right outside Ecole Maurice Lavallee, by the Mill Creek Ravine. It's on a straight, tree-lined street in a mature neighbourhood. There's a crosswalk to get across from the neighbourhood to the soccer field and the school.
The street is very straight, and links up to Connor's Road. Especially with construction, this flat, straight and unencumbered road is very enticing to shortcutters, if they were able to go fast on it. Let's let them.
Normally the Cloverdale Community Hall is just that a Community Hall with a spray park and playground for children to enjoy. Currently, it hosts folk fest. Pedestrians are advised to walk on the road, protected by a couple orange pylons.
The report suggests that this stretch of road ought to be 20km/h higher than it is.
Perhaps the most surreal entry in the document, this stretch of road in front of Old Scona School is suggested to have its playground zone removed. This, in spite of the motion that council passed recently directing administration to design the entirety of this neighbourhood for a 30km/h speed limit.
Except the place in front of the school. That's exempted from the design decision.
What I'm saying is look #yegcc: You've had your fun. You've gotten your report. You've "explored" what reclassifying playground zones looks like.— Troy Pavlek (@troypavlek) August 10, 2018
Now knock it off, lets get serious, and let's get back to business. @doniveson @Cartmell_Ward9 @estolte #visionzero
Certainly Edmonton's administration drops the ball on many files. This past week is a great example of that, with administration callously removing memorial plaques, kicking heritage days out of the barn and altogether making Don Iveson pissed off.
However, this decision does not lie with administration. The City bureaucrats installed the playground zones and Council asked for a report with revised guidelines. Council will have to decide if the removal of 68 of these zones makes sense.
Perhaps there are some on the list that do make sense for removal. Certainly I feel I've given three solid examples above that probably don't make sense to remove. Is council going to waste several days debating each zone individually and manually approving them?
Budget is coming up, Council is just back from break and they have a lot of important items to deal with. Edmonton has been floundering on the Vision Zero file, and we shouldn't be fighting to spend a lot of time and money to take another step backward when we've only just made such a small incremental step forward.
Tune in August 15th.
From #yegcc's request, @CityofEdmonton is proposing 3 options for Playground Zone speed limits: keep, raise, or remove. 68 zones could be removed. @troypavlek has a blog coming soon to explain further & explore the proposed sites. #yeg #yegwalk #yegbike pic.twitter.com/t7iQtkJtlv— Edmond Chui (@EdmondChuiHW) August 10, 2018