Leaside is caught in a perfect traffic storm: LRT construction and Eglinton Ave. lane closures, the lure of big box retail along Laird, road repairs everywhere. And now the tragic death of a child, which shocked our community and reminded us all of the fragility of life. It also reminded us that our streets, busy or quiet, everywhere in Leaside, need to be made safer.
Our traffic-related problems fall into two categories: long term but temporary (related to the construction of the Eglinton rapid transit line and stations), and more permanent (our traditional flow-through patterns, which have steadily worsened over the years).
Readers of this column know that the Leaside Property Owners’ Association has been very concerned about our traffic problems for many years. With the funds received from our settlement with SmartCentres we can now afford to undertake a traffic study to come up with measures which will make a real difference. We will be looking at measures for now, and for the long term.
We all know that flow-through traffic has increased. Speeding has increased. Cars roll through stop signs. Many of you are calling for more signage and more enforcement. Once upon a time it was only the “busy” streets like Southvale, McRae, Broadway and Glenvale that carried the traffic burden, but anyone who lives on the so-called “quiet” streets will know that speeding and traffic volume are everywhere.
Whether it’s a commuter in a hurry to get to work, or a shopper in a hurry to get home, or a Leasider hurrying to get to hockey, it’s still speed, and, too often, carelessness or inattention.
It is possible to design measures on a neighbourhood-wide basis that work. Incremental changes can be very effective, in the right spots. Collecting data which identify problems and their locations is key to finding solutions. Your comments, suggestions and eventual support for those measures will be essential to the success of any plan. While we must pay particular attention to locations like schools where children are numerous, we really have to look at improving safety throughout Leaside.
A few years ago, the LPOA traffic committee created intersection designs to reconfigure the main points of automobile entry into/exit from Leaside. The net effect of these designs would reduce traffic flow and traffic speed, while at the same time improving Leaside’s landscaping and branding. We’ve presented these proposals at two LPOA annual general meetings and as well to our councillor on more than one occasion. We will be doing so again in this election season, to all Ward 26 council candidates, with the intent of finally moving ahead.
Here are two important dates to put into your calendar. The LPOA is hosting a Mayoral Candidates Debate on Tuesday, Oct. 7 at the Leaside Gardens’ William Lea Room. We have had confirmations that Olivia Chow, Rob Ford, David Soknacki, Karen Stintz and John Tory will attend.
And on Tuesday, Oct. 21 we present our Ward 26 Council Candidates Debate, also in the William Lea Room. Jon Burnside, John Parker, David Sparrow and Ishrath Velshi have confirmed that they will be there. The meetings both begin at 7:30 p.m.
The LPOA Board of Directors has regular meetings at 7:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month in the Trace Manes building. These meetings are public and we invite you to join us with your questions, any concerns, or just plain interest. The next meeting takes place on Wednesday, Sept. 3.