Road safety takes a front seat in Leaside

Isooda, Judy, Jaye, Rosa, and Jillian at North York Council. Photo Rachael Hillier.
Isooda, Judy, Jaye, Rosa, and Jillian at North York Council. Photo Rachael Hillier.

In the short period of time I’ve represented Leaside, I’ve quickly learned that there are longstanding traffic issues in the neighbourhood. Over the last year, I’ve held multiple meetings with the Leaside Property Owners’ Association (LPOA), Transportation staff, and members of the local community to move forward on this important issue.

After a consultation meeting in June, two local residents – Judy McKenna and Rosa Spizzirri – spearheaded a community petition in support of a 30 km/h speed limit throughout Leaside. The petition secured more than 1,700 signatures from both individuals and households, demonstrating the neighbourhood’s overwhelming support for the change.

Speed limit reductions are one of the City’s most effective road safety tools. In addition to laying the framework for additional traffic calming measures, a 30 km/h speed limit reduces the likelihood of a pedestrian fatality in a collision to less than 10%, compared to a 30% likelihood at 40 km/h.

Procedurally, Transportation Services staff require a petition to initiate a speed limit reduction request. Once a petition is submitted, staff will undertake a report evaluating whether or not each street meets the stringent warrants required in the City’s traffic calming guide – a process that can take anywhere from several months to a year.

In consultation with local neighbours, I fast-tracked this process by writing and tabling a motion at the October meeting of North York Community Council to implement a neighbourhood-wide speed limit reduction to 30 km/h. I also directed Transportation staff to undertake a comprehensive Traffic Management Plan (TMP) to address local road safety concerns.

As a result of the petition and persuasive arguments by Judy and Rosa, the passionate and moving remarks delivered to Council by Jillian Walsh, and the support of the LPOA, my motion was unanimously approved by Council. For the first time in recent memory, every single councillor present spoke in favour of the motion.

Please be advised that this motion has only initiated a TMP in Leaside, and does not outline the specific traffic calming measures that will be implemented. Before any recommendations, Transportation staff will consult with members of the community and local stakeholders.

While the City has undertaken several street-specific studies in Leaside over the years, the Transportation division has never had the organizational capacity to comprehensively assess road safety concerns on a neighbourhood-wide basis. This year, however, Transportation Services underwent a reorganization that led to the creation of a new department – Area Transportation Planning.

Area Transportation Planning’s approach will be a significant departure from the current traffic operations model, which assesses traffic and pedestrian safety concerns on an issue by issue basis. Instead, Area Transportation Planning will evaluate broader neighbourhood traffic patterns and approach solutions more holistically.

My sincerest thanks to Judy, Rosa, Jillian, for their hard work and advocacy, to the LPOA for their support, and to the Leaside community as a whole for their continued engagement on these important issues.

About Jaye Robinson 10 Articles
Jaye Robinson is City Councillor for Ward 15.