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Photo radar rollout expected in Toronto school zones 'this year': Tory

Last Updated Mar 19, 2018 at 1:00 pm EDT

Mayor John Tory says he expects photo radar to be introduced in school zones across Toronto “this year.”

Tory made the announcement at Monday’s launch of Toronto police’s “Slow Down Toronto” campaign at Cornell Junior Public School, near Lawrence Avenue East and Markham Road, on Monday. The two-week safety blitz, which comes as children head back to school after March break, is taking place in school zones.

“We’re in the midst of a planned speed-up of the introduction of speed enforcement technology in school zones, and I hope we have news to report in that regard in a very few weeks,” Tory said in a news conference outside the school.

Photo radar is part of Tory’s plan to try and improve road safety across schools. The city announced last fall that is was implementing photo radar in school zones, but it was expected to take about a year-and-a-half to get it approved by Queen’s Park. Tory said he will waiting for the province to approve photo radar.

“The hold-up at the moment is a regulatory one, but we’re working hard to get that resolved so that we can introduce speed enforcement technology in school zones,” he said.

In a scrum after the press conference, Tory said he hopes to have photo radar in place soon.

“We may have to do it on a sort of pilot project basis because of procurement issues and regulatory issues, but I am telling people photo radar is going to be back this year in the school zones,” Tory said.

“That is something that I asked for, it’s something we need, and it’s something that I think is going to give people a wake-up call in school zones because there are far too many kids being put at risk.”

“I think you will see photo radar in place — even if it is on a trial basis, where we can have two or three technologies. We have it at a number of school zones this year, for sure. I hope that the broader deployment of photo radar in school zones can happen this year as well … it’s going to be in place this year,” Tory added.

Tory said the city will also be installing “traffic calming” signs in 12 school zones across the city, as part of a one-year pilot project.

The “traffic calming” signs are part of the city’s $86-million Vision Zero Road Safety Plan, which focuses on school zones and areas around schools — which coincides with Toronto police’s school zone safety campaign.

The signs will be placed in the middle of the roadway to remind drivers they are in a school zone and to slow down.

An example of a "traffic calming" sign. HANDOUT/City of Toronto
An example of a “traffic calming” sign. HANDOUT/City of Toronto


Second, the city plans to accelerate the School Safety Zone program and will retrofit 80 schools in 2018, which is up from 20 schools on a yearly basis.

Deputy police chief Peter Yuen said for the first time ever, a new traffic campaign will have parking enforcement officers tagging and towing parents’ vehicles in school zones.

The city will also look at ways to implement safety measures in front of schools, such as school zone safety signs with flashing beacons, “watch your speed” markings on school zone pavements, zebra markings at school crosswalks, and a review of school crossing guard placements at major crossings.

Meanwhile, Toronto police’s school-zone safety blitz is taking place until April 1. Police will focus on driving behaviours — speeding, distracted driving, and aggressive driving — that lead to serious and fatal crashes in the city. The road safety campaign ends on Sunday.

Const. Clint Stibbe said speed is a factor in fatal crashes.

“Going 40 km/h, the chances of a pedestrian surviving a collision is about 80 per cent. If you’re going 60 km/h, the chance of a pedestrian dying is about 80 per cent,” he said. “Reduce your speed [and] save a life.”