Q&A - School Zones in the Summer Time

Q&A ImageIn Parksville, around the Oceanside Middle School, the school zone sign remains up during the summer. It states the speed to be 30 km/h and underneath a sign says "school days." Other areas do not have the notation of "school days" but do leave up their 30 km/h sign during the summer in the Oceanside area. If the posted 30 km/h signs remain up even though school is not in session, it would seem one must still drive the 30 km/h, except in the area of the Oceanside Middle School. Is this correct?


Obeying School Zone Signs

Here is what the Motor Vehicle Act says:

Schools and playgrounds

147 (1) A person driving a vehicle on a regular school day and on a highway where signs are displayed stating a speed limit of 30 km/h, or on which the numerals "30" are prominently shown, must drive at a rate of speed not exceeding 30 km/h while approaching or passing the school building and school grounds to which the signs relate, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., or subject to subsection (1.1), between any extended times that are stated on the signs.

(1.1) Extended times under subsection (1) may not begin later than 8 a.m. or end earlier than 5 p.m.

(2) A person driving a vehicle on a highway must drive the vehicle at a rate of speed not exceeding 30 km/h when approaching or passing, between dawn and dusk, a public playground for children where signs are displayed stating a speed limit of 30 km/h, or on which the numerals "30" are prominently shown.

What is important is the definition of "regular school day." The case of R v Ashir discusses that:

[10] I address first the issue of whether June 11, 2009 was a regular school day. The evidence was that June 11 was a Thursday and that on Thursday afternoon, school was in session, which I take to mean, there were students in attendance. The reference to the afternoon was obviously a slip of the tongue, but nevertheless was the only specific evidence on that point. All of the other evidence related to the time of the alleged offence, 9:30 in the morning. His point is that there is no evidence school was in session at 9:30 on the morning of June 11.

[11] In my view, “regular school day” has a broader meaning in section 147(1) than whether on the specific day, there were students in attendance. I conclude “regular school day” has a statutory meaning, not a factual meaning. That expression is not defined in either the Interpretation Act or the Motor Vehicle Act. So I have taken my guidance from the School Act, RSBC 1996 c.412, and its Regulations. Section 1 of the School Act defines school day as “any one of the days in session” and days in session (abridged) as “the days in a school year in which teachers are scheduled, in the school calendar, to be available”. I found the School Calendar Regulation, B.C. Reg. 114/2002, to be of greatest assistance. Section 6 of that Regulation requires a Board to operate each school in accordance with the school calendar. Schedule I (Supplement) to the Regulation sets out the school calendar for 2008 / 2009 and it lists March 23 as the day that school reopens after Spring Vacation and, with the exception of 3 single-day holidays not relevant to this matter, June 26 as the day school closes.

[12] I conclude from this legislation that a regular school day within the meaning of the Motor Vehicle Act in the 2008 / 2009 school year is any weekday between September 2, 2008 and June 26, 2009 other than the periods listed as Winter Vacation and Spring Vacation or the 5 listed statutory holidays. I therefore conclude that Thursday, June 11, 2009 was a regular school day.

This is the regulation referred to in paragaph 11 of the judgment, and it appears that school districts now set their own calendars.

Finally, the pentagonal school zone sign is merely an advisory if there is not a black on white tab specifying a speed underneath it. Drivers should exercise caution and may choose to slow down. If there is such a tab in place, the speed limit shown on it is mandatory, but only during regular school days.

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