A Scarborough city councillor has taken action nearly a week after a young boy was struck and killed while crossing the street after school.
Students and parents near Kennedy Public School in Scarborough woke up on Monday to find an orange fence blocking a popular shortcut to the back of the school with the sign “temporarily closed”.
“So many parents are complaining about that because they have to walk a very long way around the school,” Cecilia Tran, whose three children attend the elementary school, explained.
Duncan Xu, 11, was killed at the corner of Canongate Trail and Ockwell Manor Drive, near Steeles Avenue East and Kennedy Road, last Tuesday.
The intersection is right next to a walkway that leads to the school, but police told CityNews they have yet to determine if Xu was using the walkway when the incident occurred.
The tragedy was enough for area councillor Jim Karygiannis to erect a fence blocking the path.
He said he’s long believed walkway creates an unsafe situation, encouraging children to cross where there is no stop sign or crossing guard.
“Two years ago, I said to the constituency and to the ratepayers, ‘we’re going to have a problem,'” Karygiannis recounted.
“I sent an email to ask them what they would think about closing this down and they said ‘no, we want to walk our kids’, so I said, ‘fine.'”
Karygiannis admits he has since received calls from unhappy residents, but said he felt something had to be done immediately. He said he made the move after consulting the local ratepayers’ association — a group of about 15 community members.
Tran said she understands the temporary measure, but she’s hoping to see more changes focused on traffic at the intersection.
“I would like to see a stop sign for sure,” she said.
“And a crossing guard,” added her 10-year-old daughter Jasmine.
One pedestrian advocate said he believes Karygiannis’ fence sends the wrong message, punishing pedestrians, while letting drivers off the hook.
“The onus being on the pedestrian here is misguided,” Sean Marshall, co-founder of Walk Toronto, said.
“A driver should not be going so quickly that they hit and kill a child.”
Karygiannis said slowing down traffic is part of his long term plan, but those measures take time to implement.
“To slow down cars, add speed bumps, and stop signs, that has to go through community council,” he explained.
“The next community council meeting is April 4th.”
Karygiannis said the fence is simply temporary until he can get those mitigation measures approved.
“The first thing I need to do is make sure no kids come flying out of here,” he said, pointing to the pathway’s exit.