The speed limit has been lowered on a short section of Highway 2 in Hay River because people are crossing at that point to get to a new homeless shelter.
On Dec. 7, the speed limit was decreased from 60 kph to 50 kph on 350 metres of the highway as it passes Spruce Road in the vicinity of Hay River Home Hardware.
Signs were installed on that day to indicate the change.
“Following the opening of an emergency shelter near the intersection of Highway 2 and Spruce Road, safety concerns were raised by the community due to the higher presence of pedestrians crossing the intersection,” said Sonia Idir, a communications officer with the Department of Infrastructure in Yellowknife.
“To ensure the safety of all road users, the GNWT reduced the speed limit on the section of Highway 2,” she said. “A crosswalk with warning lights will be installed in summer 2021.”
The Moving Forward Emergency Shelter for Men and Women opened its doors on Sept. 1. It is located on Industrial Drive just behind Home Hardware, and on the other side of the highway from downtown Hay River.
The issue of the new speed limit was raised at the Dec. 7 online meeting of town council.
“I’ve had some comments from residents with respect to the speed limit on the Mackenzie Highway that crosses the path to Home Hardware,” said Coun. Steve Anderson, explaining they are concerned that it’s such a small area in which to reduce the speed.
“I think it’s probably a window for people to get tickets needlessly,” he said.
Anderson added that, rather than a change of speed limit, it might have been better to erect signs to tell motorists to be prepared to slow down.
The councillor also suggested that it would probably be a good idea to add more lighting to the area.
Ross Potter, the town’s director of protective services, said the municipality’s protective services specialist, also known as the bylaw officer, will not be writing many speeding tickets in the zone.
“That will be an educational thing rather than a ticketing thing for our protective services specialist,” Potter said. “We’re not planning on handing out a whole bunch of tickets through that area because it is new.”