Toronto & East York community council votes to lower residential speed limits

Toronto & East York community councillors have voted unanimously to reduce speeds on residential streets from 40km/h to 30km/h.

The motion was spearheaded by Coun. Josh Matlow, who first proposed the idea last summer after seven-year-old Georgia Walsh was struck and killed by a van in Leaside.

“Many of my colleagues today said what I know to be true as well, which is traffic safety in our neighbourhoods and speed on our streets is perhaps the number one issue that we hear about on a daily and weekly basis,” Matlow said on Monday night.

Coun. Mike Layton also said he’s heard concerns from numerous residents.

“We are all hearing it loud and clear,” he said. “All the reports seem to indicate that this is the safest way to proceed. It’s the way that we get the best results. Of course it will need to come with enforcement and education, but this is the first step…”

Community councils have the authority to set speeds on local roads, but the full council has to approve the additional cost of changing signs and to re-time traffic lights — at a reported cost of $1.1 million.

The speed limit change would affect 387.1 kilometres of local roads. According to the motion, 4,450 signs would require installation and 310 traffic signals would have to be re-timed.

The funding would have to be secured in the city’s 2016 budget.

Despite hopes that the change will save lives, a staff report being released this week finds that reducing the speed limit won’t decrease the number of pedestrian deaths, unless combined with speed bumps and police patrols.

However, Matlow told 680 NEWS he has reports to the contrary.

“We have a medical officer of health report that clearly states that the difference between (a pedestrian) being hit by a vehicle at 30 km/h versus 40 km/h is literally a matter of life and death,” he said.

Matlow said patrols should be priority for police, but that doesn’t mean an increase in the number of officers on the force.

“I’m not asking for more resources. I am asking for a strategy to increase the visibility and enforcement. And what I’m hoping that the police will do is ensure that there is a greater police presence that one can expect and feel when they’re in their neighbourhoods, especially around schools.”


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