Edmonton councillors urge city to crack down on speed demons

Edmonton city councillors are calling on police and bylaw officers to clamp down on drivers making excessive noise, a problem made worse by near-empty streets during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Councillors made their request at the weekly emergency advisory committee meeting Wednesday. 

Coun. Scott McKeen said the noise and subsequent complaints are heightened this year with so many people stuck at home and problem drivers have more room to speed and rev their engines. McKeen took issue with the fine for excessive noise, which is $155.

“I would suggest that’s not enough to reflect the amount of disruption and pain it causes in communities,” McKeen said of the fine amount. “I hope we could look at that at a future date not too far down the road.” 

Coun. Tim Cartmell, who lives in the city’s southwest Ward 9, said drivers speeding through neighbourhoods are bent on disturbing residents deliberately.

“People are starting to take matters into their own hands,” he added. “We’re getting interactions between drivers and residents that are going to end up with very serious consequences.” 

In a time when police resources are strained, he asked the city to ramp up efforts on reducing vehicular noise. 

“Is there room to increase these fines 10-fold right now? Is there room to seize vehicles that have been modified?” 

Supt. Dean Hilton with Edmonton police told council speeding is a top priority right now. 

City manager Adam Laughlin acknowledged that complaints about vehicle noise have gone up significantly over the past week and that the city will work with Edmonton Police Service on joint initiatives to address the issue.  

Rob Smyth, manager with citizen services, said the city has ordered three more noise technology units due to arrive in July. 

But Coun. Ben Henderson questioned why the city isn’t ticketing now since council gave them to go-ahead to do last spring.

It’s been nearly a year since the city started handing out tickets after the city set up noise monitoring equipment at hot spots around the University of Alberta and on Jasper Avenue. 

Henderson said the province’s Traffic Safety Act gives the city the authority to ticket people who modify their mufflers.

No garage sales

Council also agreed to renew the state of local emergency for the fifth time since it was first declared Mar. 20. 

They city has also been adding restrictions over the past few weeks. 

Wednesday’s steps include banning garage sales this summer to help limit gatherings of 15 people of more. 

Anyone holding a garage sale will receive a warning and are subject to a fine of $488 per day, up to a maximum of $10,000 per offence, a city release said. 

The city will also expand the community garden program by supporting temporary gardens on public land and will be encouraging people to grow vegetables on their own property, such as front lawns and balconies.

The city is considering turning another 23 kilometres of roadway into shared use paths for pedestrians and cyclists.  

“This will enhance the pedestrian connection between the surrounding communities and adjacent commercial including grocery stores, pharmacies and farmers markets and also the river valley,” Laughlin said. 

Starting April 24, the city will expand the road closures on Saskatchewan Drive between 110th Street to 116th Street. 

Transit gap 

The city will launch an on-demand service using DATS vehicles to transport essential workers from five hospitals to their homes. The service is expected to be fully operational in a few days.

In the meantime, Alberta Health Services is managing after-hour transportation needs by issuing taxi chits on behalf of the city. 

Nearly 200 people gave feedback to the city after it reduced bus and LRT service last week, 85 per cent of them identifying as essential health-care workers. 

The new system is expected to meet the majority of the late-night commuters needs, Laughin added. 

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