Working together to find solutions to traffic woes in Leaside

Aerial view of Leaside

This being Leaside Life’s Canada 150 edition, I thought I’d contribute a bit of history to this month’s column.

Once upon a time, there was no through traffic along Southvale Drive.

In fact, there was no Southvale Drive.

You may have noticed that, unlike most other east/west streets in the city, house numbers on Southvale run backwards, with 135 at the western end where Southvale (now) converges with Moore Avenue, and number 5 at the eastern end. When these houses were being built back in the early 1940s, the street we now call Southvale was named Laird Drive. Laird was a north-south street, as it is now, but instead of ending at Millwood Road it hooked westward, extending to where Astor Avenue/Southvale intersect.

And located there was a dump, blocking any further east/west traffic. Some years later the dump was removed, opening up the connection between Moore and Laird. Subsequently the name of the street was changed at that corner to Southvale Drive. But the original house numbers remained.

So if you call a taxi to a Southvale address, you’re likely to see the taxi initially shoot past, the driver only realizing, too late, that the house numbers are in reverse order. It even confused Google Earth for a while.

I offer this historical tidbit to emphasize how traffic issues can completely change over time. Thanks (if that’s the correct term) to the elimination of the dump at Moore/Laird, Southvale now carries a heavy load of through traffic, a much greater share than the Leaside civic authorities ever anticipated.

Back to the present Leaside street pattern…many of our streets in both North and South Leaside are now carrying a heavier through-traffic load than they should. It is not just incidental that residents have complained of a gradual but inexorable increase in commuter and retail-oriented drivers using more and more of Leaside’s residential streets throughout the community.

When I became involved in the 1970s and started seeking solutions for Leaside’s traffic woes, speeding was our main concern. There are still streets where speed is a problem, but the main issue now is volume.

This is likely to continue, and worsen, as development pressures increase, unless we act as a community to adopt a neighbourhood-wide approach to traffic. Now is that time.

Councillor Burnside’s North and South Traffic Committees have been working hard to develop ideas to reduce traffic problems in their areas. The LPOA’s traffic consultant and traffic committee have been doing the same for the entire Leaside area. Leaside as a community needs to work together to coordinate proposed measures where possible.

By the time you read this column, the heads of the North Leaside Traffic Committee, South Leaside Traffic Committee, and Leaside Property Owners’ Association Traffic Committee will have met to begin this process. Now that we have a number of proposals to assess, we can identify which measures can most effectively address our traffic problems, street by street, in ways which do not deflect problems from one street to another. In other words, we need to have a system which works as a system and helps everyone.

Presenting the resulting recommendations to Leasiders for your buy-in will be essential, because only then can we successfully present a plan to North York Community Council for their assent. The council is only likely to support our efforts to solve Leaside’s traffic issues if the entire community is behind it.

Working together is the only way forward. I hope to report our committees’ progress in a subsequent column.

Summer is here, but the LPOA’s monthly board meetings continue! Our next meeting is on WEDNESDAY, JULY 5, at 7:30 p.m. in the Noble Room at Trace Manes. These meetings are always open to the public, and take place on the first Wednesday of each month. We invite you to attend, whether for help or advice on local matters, or just to listen.

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.