PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING
Bill No. 80 - Traffic Safety Act.
MS. SUSAN LEBLANC « » : Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to once again speak to Bill No. 80, the Traffic Safety Act. I want to echo what the minister has said about how this is a mammoth bill and is the result of a lot of work and a lot of years of work by many people in the department. I want to thank them for that dedicated work, and also the stakeholders who took lots of time to provide input and make sure that this bill is mostly right.
I want to say a couple of words about the name of the Act - I think it's significant. The old Act is the Motor Vehicle Act, the new Act will be the Traffic Safety Act. This is an acknowledgement that cars don't own the road and that we have to make space on the roads for all kinds of types of users, and that it's safe and accessible for pedestrians and individuals with mobility aids and cyclists and Segwayists and rollerbladers and all of the people. I also want to echo my comments from the other day about appreciating the definition of the term "vulnerable road user" and that there will be significant fines and impacts on drivers who break laws and harm vulnerable road users.
I was at Law Amendments Committee the other day when this bill was brought forward. I want to bring forward some of the comments again that I heard - in particular, from Kelsey Lane from the Ecology Action Centre and Ben Buckwold from Bicycle Nova Scotia. I was happy to hear that many of their concerns and issues that they want brought forward with this bill will be addressed in regulation and that they're satisfied that that will happen.
Again, I want to talk about the issue of the speed limit. We know there is lot of good information from the World Health Organization and from lots of different organizations. We know that speed kills, and we know that a reduction in speed, even a small reduction in speed, can result in huge lifesaving efforts and numbers. We know that the process for municipalities currently to go to the province to get speed limits changed is onerous and difficult in some ways. So I want to again be on the record and say that I wish that this bill did allow for municipalities to change speed limits to as low as 30 kilometres per hour in certain areas.
One of the most compelling arguments I heard was from Mr. Buckwold the other day, when he talked about living on Clifton Street, which is a very narrow, tiny little residential street in the North End of Halifax. I've walked that street many times, and I honestly don't even understand how a car could go 50 kilometres an hour down that street, given that there's only parking on one side and it's very narrow and tight. I certainly wouldn't want my children to be playing on that road when cars are going 50 kilometres an hour.
I live around the corner from Slayter Street, and it's the same thing. Cars go jetting down that street and it fills me with terror for the children and vulnerable people in our neighbourhood. It's a quiet residential street, and yet the traffic is very fast on that street. I wish that municipalities would have the ability to change the limits to 30 or 40. It's not going to hurt anyone to drive a little slower, and it's going to save a lot of lives and a lot of serious injury.
I think I'll leave it there. I know I'm not going to change any minds here today and I do want to thank the minister for bringing this bill forward. I think it's going to make some really positive change in Nova Scotia and I just hope we can continue to look at these issues and make the roads as safe as possible for everyone.