What’s next for Leaside’s traffic woes?

Two hundred years ago, Benjamin Franklin stated that nothing could be said to be certain “except death and taxes.” Leasiders might be tempted to add “traffic,” as it always seems to be with us.

Earlier this month the City’s Leaside Neighbourhood Transportation Plan (LNTP) team held a virtual consultation meeting to present the first phase of the LNTP proposals for the near term (2023-2025). There were about 80 attendees, plus City Traffic staff, police representatives, and Ward 15 Councillor Jaye Robinson, whose proposal initiated the Leaside NTP in the previous Council term. Several very useful measures were proposed. 

But these changes will only take effect after the Crosstown LRT is in service. I think this is a mistake. Who knows when that will be? Why not implement traffic control safety measures sooner, to help now, and adjust subsequently as necessary? Doing so would assess the proposals’ effectiveness and monitor the effects of the LRT once in operation.

The longer we wait, the more development construction pressures congest our streets. As long-time chair of the Leaside Residents Association (LRA) Traffic Committee, I am aware that Leasiders support making our streets safer, and soon.

I am concerned that this early stage of the LNTP has ignored flow-through traffic’s major entry and exit points into and out of Leaside. Intersections like Bayview Ave. at Moore Ave., McRae Dr., Broadway Ave., and Glenvale Blvd.; Laird Dr. at Parkhurst Blvd., McRae, and Millwood Rd./Southvale Dr. These are the source of many of Leaside’s volume and speeding problems.
Perhaps the LNTP team are saving these locations for Phase Two of their proposals, but it is disquieting to find them missing from Phase One, which focuses on potential solutions within Leaside rather than on additional traffic entering Leaside.

Enforcement of speed limits and turn restrictions is a continuing problem, as we all know. The police officials at the meeting were sympathetic to our concerns, but their ability and resources are over-stretched. They support traffic control measures which are effective in themselves, not dependent on an increased police presence. The measures proposed in the LNTP are designed with this in mind.

Parking on our residential streets also received a lot of attention in the plan. How do you feel about requiring on-street parking permits? That was proposed, for instance, on Parkhurst, Sutherland and Randolph Road. On your street? And should parking on both sides of a street be permitted? Would these changes help, or even add to, such problems as speeding and unsafe driving?

One of the plan’s proposals is to install a traffic light on Bayview at Sutherland Drive, to permit a much-needed safer crossing for pedestrians, cyclists and the 88 bus route. What was not addressed, and needs to be, was how to prevent encouraging Bayview drivers from turning onto Sutherland at that light, thus opening up Sutherland as a through-Leaside route for more traffic. This intersection has been a source of both problems and complaints for many years.

Interestingly, collected location-based data show that quite a few of our traffic problems are caused by local residents: some 45% of infractions are from Leasiders, so an effective traffic plan has to consider measures aimed both at residents and at through-traffic drivers pursuing shortcuts.

For much more detail, I encourage you to go to the plan’s web page (toronto.ca/LeasideNTP), as well as for illustrations of the traffic calming measures being considered, such as speed humps (used successfully elsewhere in the city, such as in the Post Road area) and in-road flexible speed posts, which can be seen in use on such roads as Merton Street and Blythwood Road.

The Leaside NTP does not yet offer a complete or long-term solution to our traffic woes. The validity of the proposals in Phase One (and eventually in Phase Two) will be determined by your opinions and suggestions, followed by a local voting process to ensure that the neighbourhood is on side. Meanwhile, the LRA appreciates the hard work of the LNTP team, and Councillor Robinson’s continuing support of this initiative. We look forward to moving forward with results.

The LRA board of directors meets at 7:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month, at the Trace Manes building on Rumsey, just south of Leaside Library. You are welcome to join us to depute, ask questions, have your say, or just listen. Our next meeting is on July 5th.

About Carol Burtin Fripp 140 Articles
Carol Burtin Fripp is Co-President of the Leaside Residents Association, and is Chair of the LRA's Traffic Committee. Over the years, she has served on numerous East York and City task forces. Now a retired television producer (TVO and CBC), she writes Leaside Life's monthly LRA column, and has created a daily international current affairs newsletter read from Newfoundland to New Zealand.