NEWS March 18th, 2002

By Kris Scheuer

Traffic calming policy among funding items to be debated

Traffic calming is a safety issue on many residential streets. However, there is currently zero dollars allocated in the budget for measures such as speed humps, concrete islands and planters and pinch points.

If no funds are put into this year’s budget, it will affect future traffic calming projects for 2002 as well as those already approved, but waiting to be implemented. This is just one of the issues surrounding traffic calming that was addressed when city council reconvened for the first time this year.

Council spent the morning discussing whether it made sense to still debate creating a citywide, harmonized policy on traffic calming given the fact that there may be no money this year to implement measures.

"I move that this matter should be deferred until the funding matter is dealt with," motioned Etobicoke – Centre Councillor Doug Holyday (Ward 3 ).

This prompted Eglinton – Lawrence Councillor Howard Moscoe (Ward 15) to ask city staff: "How many traffic calming projects have been approved that have not been implemented?"

Staff answered that there is as much as a million-dollar backlog.

The commissioner of Works and Emergency Services said it is important to have a citywide policy in place and that council could wait to actually implement a new policy until 2003 if no funds are secured for this year. If there is no consistent policy, current bylaws will be in place in some areas while others will have no policy at all.

"I was astonished that staff would remove funding from the budget before policy has been put into place," said Parkdale – High Park Councillor David Miller (Ward 13).

"It’s about safety — predominantly of kids and seniors. I have two policies in my ward. In some cases the policy changes run between people’s houses."

In the end, city council did not pass Holyday’s motion to defer the item, due to the fact that creating a harmonized policy has already been deferred from meeting to meeting since last summer. Council will debate a new policy next month. Plus the issue of funding is still not entirely dead.

Funding for traffic calming still needs to be decided upon by the Budget Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations to city council who in turn has the final say in March.

"I will be supporting the re-insertion of this as a budget funded item," Eglinton – Lawrence Councillor Anne Johnson (Ward 16) said. "The speed humps are called sleeping policeman (enforcing slower speed limits). It is money well spent."

There was also a motion to put $750,000 back into the budget for traffic calming initiatives, which did not pass.

"Council decided not to defer traffic calming . . . We still want to debate a harmonized policy and decide if they want to put money back in. BAC has not finalized its recommendations yet," said committee member Trinity – Spadina Councillor Olivia Chow (Ward 20). "But right now there is no money in the budget for traffic calming. Nothing has been finalized yet.

"I think in the end we will approve a harmonized policy and approve money. It is a no brainer. It is a safety issue. $750,000 was wiped out for past approved traffic calming, that could be put back in plus some new measures (could be funded as well)."