Looking back over the past year, I think we can all agree that traffic and development were the two most pressing issues in Leaside.
While recognizing that the LRT and its construction bring us some unwanted challenges, the increase of poor driving habits in the community is unacceptable. At the very least we need drivers to obey the rules of the road.
Sadly, too many times, I receive complaints about and witness drivers in our community ignoring stop signs, speeding and making other dangerous manoeuvres.
I have long maintained that bad driving habits have become commonplace because police enforcement has decreased. For laws to be effective, justice needs to be swift and sure. Unfortunately, city-wide, the number of police officers dedicated to traffic duties has substantially decreased over the past 25 years, despite the number of cars having increased.
The reality is that councillors do not have the authority to direct police to tackle specific issues in their community. And while this is how it should be, I sometimes wish it were otherwise.
I have fielded and spoken to 53 Division regarding an untold number of traffic related complaints, but I believe that the police can be more effective if they also hear directly from constituents.
Consequently, last month I held my first Enforcement Town Hall at Leaside Memorial Gardens featuring Chief Saunders, 53 Division Unit Commander, Superintendent Gilbert and Staff Sergeant Moyer (who is responsible for officer deployment).
I want to share three interesting and important facts that came out of the town hall:
1) 53 Division has two dedicated officers to address traffic concerns but only 8 percent of traffic complaints in our division originated in Leaside. I was shocked by this number but the message is that we need to call Staff Sgt. Moyer more often with our concerns.
Given that 92 percent of complaints were from elsewhere in the division one can understand why we don’t see police enforcement as often as required.
2) Numerous “blitzes” have been conducted in both North and South Leaside and approximately 50 percent of all vehicles stopped for infractions were driven by local residents – a surprise to many in attendance.
3) Chief Saunders spoke about his desire to see a move into technology-based enforcement beyond red light cameras.
I was very pleased to hear this; nine months ago, Council approved my motion to investigate the feasibility of investigating technology- based traffic enforcement and we should hear back early in the New Year. With Mayor Tory now promoting this as well, we may see portable cameras aiding in the enforcement of stop signs, prohibited turns and even speeding in the very near future.
If you have any traffic concerns, please continue to call my office (416-392-0215) as well as Staff Sgt. Moyer (416-808-5354).
Let’s start the process of making our community and city safer by improving our own driving habits.