Despite objections by the Vancouver police department, city council has approved a plan to reduce the speed limit along an accident-prone section of Hastings Street to make the area safer for pedestrians.
Data provided to council shows the strip, which runs through the heart of the Downtown Eastside, is the most dangerous place for pedestrians in the city.
The speed limit will be reduced from 50 km/h to 30 km/h - the same as school zones - along the six-block stretch between Abbott and Jackson streets, on a trial basis. The duration of the trial is unfixed.
The plan also calls for dozens of new intersection safety cameras, earmarked for several of the most dangerous intersections such as Broadway and Commercial, Burrard and Davie, Kingsway and Joyce, and Kingsway and Victoria.
City staff and speakers also convinced council to roll out more pedestrian countdown timers, longer walk times and boards alerting drivers to their speed on Oak Street at 33rd Avenue, the False Creek bridges and near Main.
Council was told by city staff, police, Vancouver Coastal Health and several speakers from the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users that dangerous incidents between motorists and pedestrians are on the rise, especially centred around the intersection of Main and Hastings. Three pedestrians have died in collisions in the Downtown Eastside in the last month.
The police supported other recommendations from the report to improve city-wide safety for pedestrians, but stopped short of endorsing the 30 km/h speed limit for Hastings.
In the report, the police said collision data suggest the majority of pedestrian fatalities were because of pedestrian error rather than excessive speed. Stricter laws would only "dilute" the ability of officers to promote safety across the city, the officer said.
"We have less resources than we did last year," Insp. Ted Schinbein told council. "We're doing the best we can with the resources we have."