TORONTO — The NDP MPP for University—Rosedale Jessica Bell is calling on John Tory and Toronto City Council to expand Toronto’s Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) program to make the city’s streets safer.
Bell held a press conference Thursday along with the Greater Yorkville Residents Association and the Avenue Road Safety Coalition to urge the City to increase the number of speed cameras beyond the 75 it will have in place by next month.
“Toronto’s safety camera program is one important tool in the big toolbox that is needed to achieve the Vision Zero goal of reducing the number of injuries and deaths on our roads to zero,” Bell said.
“Despite the ASE program’s effectiveness at reducing speeding and changing drivers’ behaviour, the City has no plans to expand the program further. I’m calling on them to do so.”
The ASE program started with 50 safety cameras in 2020 and will expand to 75 cameras in February 2023.
“The city’s Vision Zero program has made some headway in making our roads safer, which is why we need to double down on it and implement additional road safety measures, including the redesign of dangerous intersections, separated bike lanes, speed bumps and red-light cameras,” Bell said.
“But I'm concerned that in John Tory's budget this year, the $43 million that the 2022 capital budget indicated as planned spending to make roads safer the following year dropped to $23 million."
In the first 20 days of 2023, 88 pedestrians were hit on Toronto roads, up from 50 at the same time last year.
“Avenue Road, in my riding of University—Rosedale, is notorious for fast and furious driving, and it is also notorious for tragedy, because so many people have been injured and killed on it," Bell said. "It used to have a speed enforcement camera to slow traffic, but no longer does, as there aren't enough speed enforcement cameras in Toronto to go around.”
Paul Bedford, Greater Yorkville Residents Association:
“The prime concern has to be safety. Between Bloor and St. Clair, Avenue Road is a very wide six-lane arterial road with extremely narrow sidewalks. This width encourages northbound and southbound cars to accelerate beyond normal speeds, creating an unsafe condition for both motorists and pedestrians. This stretch of Avenue Road should be a top priority for the city to install speed cameras that would not only result in a large source of revenue and but would hopefully slow down speeding cars to create a much safer environment.”
Albert Koehl, Avenue Road Safety Coalition:
"It takes mere seconds for a person to suffer life-long injuries in a crash with a speeding motorist, and yet we've waited years for simple changes to Avenue Road, beginning with a wider sidewalk. Instead of speeding cars and trucks on Avenue Road, we'd love to see faster action by our governments."
Jessica Spieker, Friends and Families for Safe Streets:
"To be on par with other world-class cities, Toronto should have roughly 700 speed cameras, not 75. We support the call to increase the number of speed cameras on Toronto's deadly streets, because we know that speed cameras are an effective way to reduce the dangerous and reckless speeding that results in collisions that kill innocent people. Every death and severe injury is preventable, and it's time to treat road violence as the ongoing deadly crisis that it is by investing in automated enforcement as a component of Vision Zero."
**Correction: The original release stated that Toronto's budget proposes a 45 per cent-funding cut for infrastructure to make streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists, from $43 million to $23 million.
The release has been amended to reflect the fact that the 2022 capital budget indicated plans to spend $43 million to make roads safer in 2023, but in this year's budget, that figure dropped to $23 million.