STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT
COMITÉ PERMANENT DES AFFAIRES GOUVERNEMENTALES
Monday 24 April 2017 Lundi 24 avril 2017
The committee met at 1401 in committee room 2.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Good afternoon, everyone. I’d like to call the Standing Committee on General Government to order. I welcome all members of the committee, the Clerk’s office, Hansard, legislative research, and the ladies and gentlemen who are with us today. We are here to go through the public hearings process on Bill 65, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act in respect of speed limits in municipalities and other matters.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): The subcommittee did meet on Wednesday, April 12, and provided a report which will provide guidelines on how to proceed at this committee on this bill. I would ask Mr. Baker to read that subcommittee report into the record, please.
Mr. Yvan Baker: Certainly. Thank you, Chair.
Report of the subcommittee, dated Wednesday, April 12, 2017.
Your subcommittee on committee business met on Wednesday, April 12, 2017, to consider the method of proceeding on Bill 65, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act in respect of speed limits in municipalities and other matters, and recommends the following:
(1) That the committee hold public hearings on Bill 65 in Toronto, at Queen’s Park, on Monday, April 24, 2017, and Wednesday, April 26, 2017, during its regular meeting times.
(2) That the Clerk of the Committee, in consultation with the Chair, post information regarding the committee’s business with respect to Bill 65 in English and French on the Ontario parliamentary channel, on the Legislative Assembly website, and with the CNW newswire service.
(3) That interested people who wish to be considered to make an oral presentation on Bill 65 should contact the Clerk of the Committee as soon as possible.
(4) That the Clerk of the Committee schedule witnesses on a first-come, first-served basis.
(5) That groups and individuals be offered six minutes for their presentations, followed by up to nine minutes for questions by committee members, three minutes per caucus.
(6) That the deadline for receipt of written submissions on Bill 65 be 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26, 2017.
(7) That the research officer provide the committee with a summary of witness presentations by 12 noon on Friday, April 28, 2017.
(8) That amendments to Bill 65 be filed with the Clerk of the Committee by 2 p.m. on Friday, April 28, 2017.
(9) That the committee meet on Monday, May 1, 2017, and Wednesday, May 3, 2017, during its regular meeting times, for clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 65.
(10) That the committee request that staff from the Ministry of Transportation be present during clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 65 to answer any technical questions committee members may pose during the proceedings.
(11) That the Clerk of the Committee, in consultation with the Chair, be authorized to commence making any preliminary arrangements necessary to facilitate the committee’s proceedings prior to the adoption of this report.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Mr. Baker. Any questions or comments concerning the subcommittee report? If not, I will ask for those in favour of the passing of the subcommittee report. Any opposed? There are none. I declare the subcommittee report carried. As such, we will move forward.
Moving forward, it was determined by the committee recently that it’s six minutes per presentation from each of the presenters, followed by three minutes of questioning. We’re on a very, very tight time frame today, as the schedule is full. If I have to, I will reduce the questioning from three minutes down to two, if we fall behind schedule. Any members of the committee have issues with that? Very good. Thank you kindly.
Safer School Zones Act, 2017 Loi de 2017 sur la sécurité accrue des zones d’école
Consideration of the following bill:
Bill 65, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act in respect of speed limits in municipalities and other matters / Projet de loi 65, Loi modifiant le Code de la route relativement aux limites de vitesse dans les municipalités et à d’autres questions.
Global Traffic Group
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We shall call the first presenter tonight. From the Global Traffic Group, we have Mr. David Steer, who is the chief executive officer. We welcome you, sir, this afternoon to committee. You have six minutes for your presentation.
Mr. David Steer: No pressure. Good afternoon. Thanks for the invitation. My name is David Steer. I’m the CEO of Global Traffic Group. Global Traffic is an Alberta-based company. We design, invent and deploy automated traffic-enforcement technology in Alberta and Saskatchewan. We’re a company that’s 15 years old and currently in over 20 communities throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan, with over 100 employees.
We understand that you’re interested in amending your legislation and looking at the Safer School Zones Act, and we understand that the primary focus of that is to increase traffic safety in these school zones or community safety zones. We understand that community safety zones might be school zones, playground zones, construction zones or any of those zones within a municipality where the community is interested in lowering the speed limit or has lower speed limits.
Of course, in Alberta—being all Canadians, we have the same creatures there with very similar signage etc., and of course a lot of Alberta drivers are here in Ontario. We see a lot of licence plates from Ontario in Alberta.
Here’s an example, on the next page, of a school zone. You can see that this vehicle is doing 86 kilometres per hour in a 30 zone, so 56 kilometres per hour over the speed limit, during regular school zone hours. I wish I could say that this is just a one-off, but we have seen this every day.
We see it all the time, of course. I get all of the newsfeeds. I think just a couple of days ago in Hamilton, people were saying that photo enforcement, photo radar, is a cash cow and it doesn’t work, and all the rationale why. But I can tell you, 100% and unequivocally, that in school zones it does work, and it works very well. We’ve gone from school zones where there may have been over 100 violations per hour and now they are at zero, so a 100% success rate in school zones. The rationale for that is that primarily in those school zones it’s local residents in the area, so they learn very, very quickly to start following the speed limits etc.
On the next page: What got me into automated traffic enforcement is that I worked 30 years ago with the RCMP flying airplanes as a professional pilot, with over 5,000 hours now. We had RCMP officers in the back with their stopwatches, doing traffic patrols on the highways etc. Then, 15 years ago I started this company, Global Traffic Group.
On the next page you can see this vehicle, that white SUV, entering into a construction zone. If we had the video—but in the interest of saving time and not having the right technology here today—always have a backup plan, which you learn as a pilot. Redundancy: That’s why you have paper copies in front of you today.
Without missing a beat, you can see that this vehicle—if we had the video—is absolutely flying through the stop sign with zero respect for the law. If this was a school zone—it is a construction zone, so there are workers present etc. It’s a slight deviation from the speed you’re talking about—let’s say for school zones—but just for your consideration, I wanted to show you a couple of examples that we see out there.
On the next page you have this little silver wagon. It is doing 103 kilometres per hour in a 30 zone, so 73 kilometres per hour over the speed limit. I don’t know if you all have children; I have two young daughters. They have worked as crossing guards etc., and I’ve seen all the statistics on braking distances etc. There is no reason why anybody, even an emergency vehicle, would be doing 103 kilometres per hour in a 30 zone.
Just for your information, briefly: Typically in Alberta, for anything over 50 kilometres per hour over the speed limit—a lot of people say, “Oh, it doesn’t work. You need demerits”—we will typically slip over to the RCMP, and they’ll go knocking on this person’s door and say, “What were you doing?” and give them a mandatory court appearance. That’s for school zones, playground zones and really anywhere where they’re doing 50 kilometres per hour over or more.
On the next page, with the stop sign—you can see that in Alberta about seven or eight years ago we worked with the Solicitor General’s department. Of course, speed is very important when it comes to accident prevention etc., but also I think that in Ontario you have some legislation around red light cameras, as we do in Alberta and Saskatchewan. But we were looking at stop signs, particularly in school zones and playground zones, so we designed and developed some technology and, working with the government, created a program so that we could enforce stop signs.
How this works is if this vehicle who absolutely blew the stop sign—you can see a lady just across the street as a pedestrian—and probably went through here at about 40 or 50 kilometres an hour, through the stop sign, with no brake lights; nothing. This happens all the time. What we do is, we take a five-second or 10-second video clip in 4K—now up to 6K technology—and we put that online. The person sees the vehicle on the ticket in the mail, but then they enter their licence plate number, their ticket number and MVID number and they can watch that, and it really reduces the court time. Very few people, once they get to see the video of their vehicle going through the stop sign, come to court and challenge that, because it’s so obvious.
On the next page we have our red light cameras and speed-on-green cameras. In this one, a pedestrian crosses the street and almost gets hit. We have a number of violations where we actually, through our video technology, do capture accidents—not just the violation, but there’s an actual accident. This is not one of those. I wasn’t intending to scare anybody today. The other cool part of that technology is that you can get into Amber Alerts etc.
On the next page, we see this—I’m sure that everybody on the way here even today probably saw this—where you have a lady or a gentleman talking on their cellphone. Then you get into texting and driving etc. This lady is doing 70 kilometres per hour. Both hands come off the wheel and then she reaches over, grabs a pen and starts writing something down, all while she’s going straight. I can only imagine if she was in one of your school zones what would happen.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. Sorry, we’re over time.
We’ll start with the official opposition. Mr. Harris.
Mr. Michael Harris: So you were just talking, and maybe you would like to finish what you were saying? You talked about distracted driving. How will this bill combat distracted driving in school safety zones and/or community safety zones?
Mr. David Steer: On the last page—and this is why I’m really here today. It’s not to pitch Global. It really is that what happens in Ontario affects us in Alberta. What happens in Sydney, Australia, affects us, or in Arizona—it will affect you with your program here.
What I’m really suggesting today is that if you just have a photo enforcement program for speed, then people are going to take the potshots and say that it’s a cash cow, and why are you there? If you look at doing your benchmark data up front and not just doing a speed program, but—on the last page, you’re looking at speed, you’re looking at an education program, working with the engineers and the design to make sure that we’re doing this the right way, and as a last resort, you’re issuing a ticket.
If you open up the program to not just speed, but look at pedestrian crosswalk enforcement, distracted driving enforcement, stop signs and red lights in your school zones or these community safety zones, you’ll have an infinitely better time selling it to the public and they’ll be on board and agree with it. And all of the people who are taking those potshots at your program will disappear.
Mr. Michael Harris: You talked about somebody who was driving 50 kilometres or 100 kilometres over the posted speed limit—
Mr. David Steer: The one in the playground zone was 103 in a 30, so 73 over in a playground zone.
Mr. Michael Harris: But in this particular bill, I guess, they would just receive a ticket in the mail weeks later. They wouldn’t be given any demerit points; correct?
Mr. David Steer: Correct, but typically what we do in Alberta is working together with the police—that’s just a local community thing. The police have the ability to take that ticket and go and knock on their door and say, “As a registered owner, we don’t want to just give this ticket to you in the mail and give you the opportunity to pay it. We want the registered owner to come to court and explain why you or your son or your daughter or whoever you lent your vehicle to was doing more than 50 kilometres an hour in a school zone.”
Mr. Michael Harris: Because right now—
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Okay, thank you very much. We appreciate it.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Thank you very much for coming today.
You did say something that was one of my first questions. You’re a company out of Alberta?
Mr. David Steer: Correct.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Do you have any ties to Ontario at all, your company?
Mr. David Steer: Not currently, no.
Mr. Wayne Gates: So it’s strictly a company out of Alberta that is putting on the presentation.
On the speed that my colleague talked about, 73 over in a school zone is relatively fast. In this bill we’re looking at putting some kind of photo radar up. Do you think that’s a good idea?
Mr. David Steer: I think it’s a great idea because, as I said at the start, our research—in fact, there’s independent research now out of the University of Alberta, a full 40-page report on it, that shows unequivocally that you can take all of the different features out of it—the air safety bags or the seat belts or the policing or red lights—and it shows 100% that photo enforcement works.
In over 20 communities that we’re in, we can show in those school zones and playground zones that, in 100% of the communities, the program works. The numbers of violators are down; the accidents are down. There’s a certain portion of the population that are taking potshots at it, but we can show the science behind it—especially, as on the second-to-last page, it’s not us designing the zones or setting them up. They’re set up by the police, and we get told. At the top of that page, you can see that it’s blue. We’re not there when it’s blue. Some of the zones are blue the entire day, which means there are no violators there.
What we do is we put the right people with the right equipment in the right zone at the right time. They are there because there is a safety concern there, and that’s it.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Mr. Gates.
We’ll start with Ms. Vernile.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: Thank you very much, Mr. Steer. I’m sorry that your video did not work today; however, the pictures do tell a story. This is the one that I’m coming back to: school zones, where I see that, in this one neighbourhood, there were 100 violations. Here’s one car going 86 kilometres per hour when it should have been 30 kilometres per hour—56 kilometres per hour faster than it should be. But now it’s zero that are going through there, right? So 100% compliance—that’s very dramatic.
Mr. David Steer: In many of these zones where we’ve been there for more than six months—so it takes about six months for local residents to understand the entire program. You’re not there on day number one to trick anybody or give them a ticket or give them multiple tickets. In fact, we put a filter on when we first start a program for one ticket per week so that they have a chance to get that first ticket. But in those school zones more than six months, we’ve seen several of those school zones where there is 100% compliance and people are doing 30.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: If you’ve been following the debate here in Ontario, you will likely know the government, obviously, supports this, as does the third party. However, we’ve heard over and over again from the Conservatives—they’re calling this a cash grab. When you hear this, how do you respond?
Mr. David Steer: Again, I’d come back to completely independent—not from me, not from a parliamentarian or anybody. Go to the University of Alberta. There is a professor there who has done a 40-page report and speaks exactly—if you’re leaving it up to the CFO of a community or some independent body, some third-party provider, and they’re setting up in a transition zone, of course it’s a cash cow, it’s for all the wrong reasons, and it really does a disservice. If you set it up with the benchmark data, going into the school zone ahead of time and finding out how many vehicles are speeding—or are they? Maybe they’re not. But if they are, then do an advertising campaign for three months and let everybody know that you’re going to be photo-enforcing in that area. Then, for one month prior to any photo-enforcement happening, send warning violations out to people and let them know that the last thing we want to do is give you a ticket.
That is what happened here. Unfortunately, when somebody goes through a school zone at 86 kilometres per hour in a 30 zone, we have to issue them a ticket.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: This is dramatic evidence. Thank you very much.
Mr. David Steer: Thank you for the question.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you, sir, for coming before committee this afternoon and sharing your insight. We appreciate it.
Mr. David Steer: On the last page, I do have my contact information. If anybody has any questions at any time, as I said, we’re all in this together, and I’m happy to be a consulting service at no charge—and happy because we are all in this together, and I want to make sure that what happens here is successful for you. Thank you so much.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you. We appreciate it.
Mr. Riley Brockington
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next we have Riley Brockington, city councillor for ward 16, River Ward, city of Ottawa. Welcome, sir. You have up to six minutes.
Mr. Riley Brockington: Thank you for the opportunity to address the Standing Committee on General Government today.
My name is Riley Brockington. I’m the father of two fantastic daughters, a pedestrian, a cyclist, a car owner, a past school board trustee, a past vice-president of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, and now a proud city councillor for River Ward in Ottawa.
I’m here today on my own behalf, advocating for the 50,000 people residing in my ward. I’m the city councillor in Ottawa who first moved the matter of speed enforcement technology to the public forum by way of motion last year, which yielded a tremendous public discussion. Ultimately, a motion was passed by Ottawa city council that asked the minister for permission to use technology in school and safety zones, as well as to lower the default speed limit on our residential streets.
I commend Minister Del Duca and the ministry for listening to municipalities over the years and introducing Bill 65. Many municipalities across our province, including Ottawa, have asked the province for permission to use new technology to fight the battle of speeding vehicles and to lower the default speed limit.
I would like to acknowledge the three MPPs whose constituencies are part of River Ward: first of all, the honourable John Fraser, my MPP; Minister Bob Chiarelli of Ottawa West–Nepean; and Minister Yasir Naqvi, Ottawa Centre, who’s been a true crusader for this bill.
River Ward is an urban ward from the airport to Carling Avenue. The Rideau River acts as its spine, with communities on both sides. My residents are active and engaged, enjoying our parks, bike paths, green spaces and all outdoor amenities.
When I campaigned in 2014, no issue was more apparent, more prominent or in need of addressing in every single community than the chronic battle of speed of vehicles in our residential communities. Despite local campaigns, traffic-calming initiatives and police crackdowns—all of which are effective, with varying results—cities need additional tools to fight these battles. Improving safety in school zones is a must, and I strongly welcome this bill and what it’s trying to accomplish, but dare I say that the bill does not go far enough? While there is no doubt that the school zones are busy, with many moving parts at key times of the day, the bill limits where technology can be used, and I strongly request that it be expanded.
Why would the ministry not consider providing municipalities greater flexibility and allow each city the option of (1) whether to use automated speed enforcement technology or not; and (2) determine where it is needed most and then implement it? Provide cities with the tools and allow us to work with our residents on where best to implement it, and we’ll be held accountable for those decisions.
School zones are critical—no dispute—but they are, by far, not the only zones within a city that need help. Construction zones, residential areas and arterial streets, unsafe areas for the police to enforce, chronic speed zones and chronic collision zones can all benefit from the new technology.
The Ottawa Police Service is stretched to the max with their long list of priorities, and on too many occasions Ottawa’s traffic units have been depleted and reassigned to address other key priorities. This has been very frustrating, and the overall safety within our communities is compromised when the police do not have the necessary resources to provide even basic speed enforcement.
Automated speed enforcement technology is very much needed, and I applaud the Ministry of Transportation for this legislation.
Again, I thank the committee for the opportunity to speak with you this afternoon. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you. It’s much appreciated.
We’ll start with Mr. Gates from the third party.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Thank you very much. How are you today?
Mr. Riley Brockington: I’m well, sir. How are you?
Mr. Wayne Gates: I used to be a city councillor as well, so I certainly had a lot of discussions around school safety zones.
Mr. Riley Brockington: Yes.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Congratulations on the Senators winning, by the way.
Mr. Riley Brockington: Oh, thank you.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I just thought I’d raise that with you. A lot of people in Ottawa are happy, and a lot of people in Toronto aren’t.
I’m going to ask you: What are you hearing from your constituents in Ottawa on this particular topic? Are you hearing that it should be expanded, that the bill doesn’t go far enough? Or are you hearing from your constituents, “We’re happy that it’s school zones. Obviously our children are most important”?
Mr. Riley Brockington: When I said in my presentation that the chronic safety issue is speed, I’m not exaggerating. We have a speeding problem in our city. It’s not just my ward, an urban ward, but across the city. Yes, we have other issues to deal with for community safety, but speed is an issue which threatens the vitality and safety of communities on every front.
People want cities to have tools to combat this. I’m not going to do this—it’s not needed in every school zone. Not every school zone has a problem, and the solution isn’t this type of technology for every school zone that has a problem. I want to look at the less invasive—whether it’s traffic-calming initiatives, police crackdowns once in a while. But there are some areas where the problem is chronic, and regardless of what we’ve tried, the issue is not going away. I do believe that technology will be of benefit. I do believe people remember when this was in use in the past, but within our urban cities where people live, where schoolchildren try to get to school, where people try and go for a jog, walk the dog, go out with their grandkids—they want the cities to have a tool kit of tools available to them, and this will be one thing of many.
Mr. Wayne Gates: So why would any party, in your eyes, be against making sure our roads are safe? You think the tools that are in the bill are good, but expanding the tools you think would be good as well. Knowing that road safety is good, why would anybody not agree—
Mr. Riley Brockington: I don’t believe any party is against road or community safety. To be honest, sir, for anyone to have a fear that this may be used as a cash grab is, I think, legitimate, because there are some municipalities where they have set their technology to catch speeders going three, five, seven, nine kilometres over the speed limit. Speeding is speeding, but certainly in Ottawa—and this is not an Ottawa position, but when I do ride-alongs with the police, we aren’t pulling people over going three kilometres over the speed limit; we start at 15, 20, depending on the road. So yes, all speeding—speeding shouldn’t be condoned.
Specifically, I’ll just point out that the motion that was passed in Ottawa said that we would direct revenues derived from this right back into road safety initiatives. It’s not going to pay for libraries, new sidewalks or other projects. It’s specifically road safety initiatives, which has not yet been defined, but that fear was out there, that we’d be using the money for some other purpose.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We’ll move to the government. Mr. Baker.
Mr. Yvan Baker: Thanks very much, Councillor, for being here and for your advocacy on this issue.
Mr. Riley Brockington: Thank you.
Mr. Yvan Baker: I wanted to clarify something you said with regard to the bill. You said that the bill needs to go further—I noted this quickly, and I’m not sure if I captured what you said—that the bill should give the flexibility to municipalities to determine where those speed limits can be reduced and whether or not to use technology to enforce speeds. Did I capture your concern correctly?
Mr. Riley Brockington: My concern is that we have chronic speeding issues in my ward and in my city, not just in school zones—many types of zones, and I enumerated a few of them. The bill talks about safer school zones, so there are some limits to where this technology can be used.
Mr. Yvan Baker: Okay.
Mr. Riley Brockington: If we’re going to have a compromise with this bill, that’s fine. I can live with that; I think it’s a good first step. Maybe we see how this goes for a couple of years, but ultimately my goal would be to allow municipalities the flexibility to use this technology where it’s needed.
Mr. Yvan Baker: Yes. My understanding is that—and there may be references that you’re referring to; I’m not taking anything away from what you said—this bill does exactly what you’ve just asked. It would allow the municipality to designate what those zones are. School zones are a commonly referenced example of that, where there’s demand for that, and you’ve referenced it in your own advocacy, but it’s not limited to school zones. It can be applied anywhere you’d like.
Mr. Riley Brockington: I appreciate that clarification. Thank you.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: Can I just add, as the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Transportation, it’s school zones and community safety zones, and you define that, as a municipality, what you see as a community safety zone.
Mr. Riley Brockington: Excellent. Thank you very much for that clarification.
Mr. Yvan Baker: And the same goes for technology: The municipalities decide when they want to use it and where they want to use it.
Mr. Riley Brockington: And there are different types of speed enforcement technologies that are available.
Mr. Yvan Baker: That’s right.
Mr. Riley Brockington: Right.
Mr. Yvan Baker: How much time, Chair?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Fifty-five seconds.
Mr. Yvan Baker: You also received a great amount of support from a group called Safe Streets Ottawa. Could you share with us what feedback you received from the members of this group?
Mr. Riley Brockington: No, I can’t share that off the top of my head. We had our own public hearings about a year ago, if not a bit less. There were just many community groups who presented at committee, which I sat through as well, and those who wrote in, but I would not be doing them a service if I told you what they said. I know there were many groups we had. Out of 15 groups, 14 were in support in Ottawa; one spoke opposed. I know from my own ward and from our own public hearings in Ottawa that there is support for this legislation.
Mr. Yvan Baker: Okay.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We appreciate it.
Mr. Michael Harris: Good afternoon, and thanks for presenting today.
From the city of Ottawa, are you aware of how the city defines what a community safety zone is within its borders?
Mr. Riley Brockington: I think it’s pretty broad right now. Certainly a school zone is pretty well-defined and known, but safety zones are more generic.
Mr. Michael Harris: Is it something you think should be more broadly defined?
Mr. Riley Brockington: Yes, I do.
Mr. Michael Harris: Any suggestions for the committee on how that possibly could be defined?
Mr. Riley Brockington: Well, certainly areas near vulnerable citizens, whether it’s seniors’ homes, definitely schools—where people maybe need more time to cross the street—daycare centres. That’s not an exhaustive list, but certainly there are some members of the community who need more time around vehicles than others—those types of institutions.
Mr. Michael Harris: From your perspective and from your constituents’ concerns, do they also speak to you of other driving behaviours that are of concern, like distracted driving?
Mr. Riley Brockington: Absolutely. People who text, who do other things, put on makeup, talk, other distractions, yes.
Mr. Michael Harris: Do you feel that some of those measures to combat some of those other driving behaviours should be combatted as well in this bill?
Mr. Riley Brockington: No. I think the bill is good at focusing on speed because I think that is a significant issue. I know distracted driving is a significant issue as well.
My concern locally is, the police have a finite amount of resources to tackle all the issues they have to in Ottawa, and the traffic enforcement units that we have commonly get reassigned to other purposes. We had a taxi protest; the Airport Parkway had a huge protest the first week of school. Normally we have school blitzes in communities. All those officers were reassigned to babysit taxi drivers who were striking against Uber—
Mr. Michael Harris: Do you see the possibility, where photo radar would be present in some of these school areas, that you would actually see less and less enforcement on those other behaviours, knowing that law enforcement might say, “Well, you know, we’ve got a photo radar machine there. We don’t need to bother with that area at all”?
Mr. Riley Brockington: I can’t speak for the police. Certainly if I continue to hear concerns in my community, I will continue to advocate and bring that to the police’s attention and expect that they’ll enforce it.
Mr. Michael Harris: What other initiatives have you seen in the city of Ottawa where there are specific problems? I mean, have you as a city identified specific areas where there are immense speeding issues, and what has the city or law enforcement done to combat that currently?
Mr. Riley Brockington: Right now we have a new model in the city, as of January 23, where residents must report online any type of service request, including speed enforcement. So it’s not good enough anymore to have a city councillor call their community officer and say, “I need you to send out the traffic unit.” The community has to get much more engaged to bring these issues en masse to the police’s attention. I identify the hot spots and expect that the police over time will address those, but I’m not just relying on the police. If I can use traffic-calming initiatives at my disposal, if we can—engineering a road is very expensive, but sometimes if you add a stop sign or yield signs or other signage, you increase education and awareness in the community that I’m constantly liaising with to bring issues to their attention. So there are multiple ways to address it.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Mr. Brockington. We appreciate you taking the time to come to the great city of Toronto and share your insight.
Mr. Riley Brockington: Thank you.
Ontario Safety League
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next on the agenda we have, from the Ontario Safety League, Mr. Brian Patterson. We welcome you, sir. You have up to six minutes for your presentation.
Mr. Brian Patterson: I’m Brian Patterson from the Ontario Safety League. I don’t think it will come as a surprise to anyone here today that the Ontario Safety League fully supports this bill. I’m going to give you lots of time for questions, because I really believe we’ve looked at some of these over the last five years. I’ve had that interaction with the public. In fact, on the way here today, I did a radio show on this very topic. So I have lots of engagement with the public on what they believe in and not, and I also have some insights into where we think there are some pitfalls down the road.
We fully support Bill 65. School safety zones can be better defined now that we have a bill, and if we have issues around it, either the Ontario Traffic Conference or the Ontario Safety League will certainly be available to help with that.
School zones are hubs in all communities. They are occupied throughout the summer and on an after-hours basis. So I like the fact that when we look at this, we look at that zone and we can establish technology appropriately.
I am old enough to remember photo radar. At the time, I was involved in a significant case in London and was commuting from Toronto out to London early on a Monday morning. I can tell you that the traffic was a lot calmer during the period of time that there was photo radar. But that’s old technology—way old technology—and I think today we have more appropriate issues of technology. I think it’s more acceptable to people in the school safety zones and what will become probably a better-defined safety zone.
I would caution the committee on listening to expansion beyond those zones at least for three to five years, because this will be a manna from heaven for some politicians, to expand it throughout their area, and we’ll have the frustration that goes with police enforcement today that it would be easier to put it into a catchment area—some call it a fishing hole, but I have a lot of police friends, so I don’t call it a fishing hole—for enforcement, and the municipality has the opportunity of changing the speed zone. And it doesn’t hit the big three that I sit before this committee on a regular basis and remind you of: engineering, education and enforcement. Enforcement is intentionally last. I think in this bill, the engineering is there. It’s a different camera, it’s a different technology, and it is a vastly improved record of incident.
On the education side, I happen to live in Newmarket. You will hear from some people from Newmarket later on this week. They woke up, got the municipality engaged regionally, and all school zones in York region, within an 18-month period, were properly measured and properly analyzed; traffic counts had taken place, and those zones were established across the region. So every school zone in York region now did that under the old rules. I think those rules were available to every municipality. It took work. I commend York region, and in particular, the leadership of Mayor Tony Van Bynen, in doing that. I think we’ve got the right technology here.
If I had my way—sometimes people think I talk like I do get to make those decisions—I would certainly like to see some use of this within the next three years, in construction zones, because we have a number of areas where a simple piece of construction that’s taking place is putting five, six or seven people at risk all day long while people race through. So a permanent acceptance in the safety zones, for sure—and there may be a way to expand it into those areas where we’ve got a number of people at risk. I don’t have to remind the committee that we already lost a young person on Friday in the city of Toronto.
The Ontario Safety League has been in school safety since 1913, and we’re happy to be with you here again today. I’m available for all questions.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, sir. We will move to the government. Ms. Kiwala.
Ms. Sophie Kiwala: Thank you very much, Mr. Patterson. It’s such a pleasure to see you here. I just want to acknowledge you, as well, for your long history with the Ontario Safety League—your 13 years. That’s quite a bit of time working and being concerned about safety.
This subject is very, very important to me. I’m a grandmother now, and my grandson lives on the same street. We live in a school zone. Just this past weekend I was pulling out of my driveway at, probably, four kilometres an hour, and everything was fine until that little bicycle that’s way below my sightline was coming into view. You can’t be careful enough. I just wanted to underline that, that we’re talking about safety zones and speed limits, but at the same time, you absolutely can’t be careful enough. I know you know that; I’m preaching to the converted. I just had to mention my little grandson.
Anyway, thank you as well for being present in the chamber during the leadoff debate on Bill 65. It was great to have you there and to have your support.
I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit about how the measures in this bill will align with OSL’s priorities.
Mr. Brian Patterson: The two principal areas—the engineering that’s available through this bill and through the discussions you’re going to hear from some city engineers, certainly, will tell you that on the engineering side we think it’s doable. I look to York region and the town of Newmarket, which went through that whole process at all schools. They looked at 60 school zones. It took them 18 months, but they made it a priority. And now the existing increase in fines is available in those zones. So on an engineering side, it’s there.
On the education side, you don’t have to have grandkids in school, you just have to have kids in school to know that the amount of communication that now goes from a school outward to parents through blogs and other issues—I don’t think there is going to be any situation where the positive advocacy of safety in those communities will go out.
I have, and I would encourage any members of the Legislature to do a ride-along with one of the school bus companies and just see what a school bus driver sees in the course of their day. They will tell you there are routes where there’s probably no issue at all and there are routes where there’s a lot of issues at play. They will be able to direct you in that direction.
On the enforcement side, I’d ask two things of the committee: Firstly, all of the fines have to be set at the provincial level because it has that ability to be very favourable to municipalities; we have that with the Highway Traffic Act that’s in place; and secondly, that the funds be directed, at least for the first five years, to issues like public safety and public advocacy. I think it has the potential of being a funding resource in some areas. We see that in some municipal bylaw enforcement. So I’d like to see it stay at the high level.
The enforcement: I’m less concerned that we’re going to lose police officers to other tasks. If we maintain that funding—and as a result we’ve got a lot of activities with police and enforcement etc. taking place, if we allow them to slip away it could be a problem.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Mr. Harris.
Mr. Michael Harris: Brian, thanks for being here today.
You talked about the fines. You’re suggesting that the province should collect revenue on this? I just want clarification on that point.
Mr. Brian Patterson: From my perspective, it would probably be easier if there was one collector and one method of distribution across the province. I’ve certainly sat in meetings where some municipalities are more focused on how many tickets would be generated. I know for anybody that has an OPP contract, how much enforcement revenue is going to occur within the budget is a huge segment of all their discussions with municipalities.
I think it has to be collected the same across the province—and if the province collects or the municipality collects it. But it shouldn’t ever touch general revenues, and it should stay, at least for the next five years, connected to public education and improvement.
Mr. Michael Harris: You talk about consistency across the province—which I think occurs on regardless of what we’re talking about. But do you think there could be a potential where municipalities, in defining what a community safety zone is, may have different ways of doing so—that there should be some sort of consistent definition or parameters on what a community safety zone is?
Mr. Brian Patterson: I do. The road engineering departments in municipalities follow guidelines that are established at the provincial level, or they’re a national standard. I think there ought not to be a scenario where it isn’t the provincial standard, where we’re allowing either potentially a shorter area or a larger area.
You just have to drive through the city of Toronto and see how many municipal councillors have speed bumps on roads close to them. And they’re a nightmare for the fire department. They did very little for public safety. They became a municipal thing.
So I would say provincial guidelines and engineering-approved guidelines, and maybe one source of collection.
Mr. Michael Harris: You did mention hours of operation in school zones. Should photo radar be allowed to tick away 24/7—or just focus narrowly on, roughly, a school day?
Mr. Brian Patterson: I believe these school-zone hubs are active—and you could define the wee, wee hours of the morning as when they’re not. I know the schools in my community. There is somebody playing basketball there till 10 or 11 o’clock at night. As long as there’s light out, there are kids congregating there for positive activities. So I would think that there would be the possibility to rationalize that community by community for the time. You’re just as likely to have kids coming and going at 2 in the afternoon, an hour and a half before closing, at 11 o’clock etc.
So I would say that between 11 and 6 a.m., you may have a window there. But I’m not sure that having it 24 hours is a problem.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: You hit on something: that these school safety zones actually are community hubs. You talked about the fact that it’s not just during the school year, quite frankly: A lot of kids are there in the summer. A lot of kids, after school, use their schools.
To his point, I would think that you want people to understand that it’s there, so that when they get into that school zone, they’re going to slow down. It doesn’t matter whether it’s at 11 o’clock at night or 3 in the morning. I think just getting used to the fact that it is a school zone and the speed limit has been reduced—I think it sends a mixed message if you change it and it’s not there 24 hours, but that’s only an opinion.
The other thing that you touched on that I felt was really, really good, and I appreciate you raising it, is construction zones. One of my colleagues had a bill—Taras had a bill, Bill 99, which talked about construction zones. And here this weekend we lost somebody else.
Maybe you can give me your opinion on construction zones and how important it would be to protect workers in the province of Ontario by maybe expanding the bill or doing something with it.
Mr. Brian Patterson: Again, if I had my way, I’d bring the bill back in three years or five years. The construction zone is one that I find really disturbing because, first, it’s virtually impossible to not use technology and deal with those areas from a safety perspective. By default, we’re putting workers at risk in those zones by saying, “Well, we can’t get an officer there, we can’t get a car there, we can’t pull the vehicle over.” I think the technology that we’re using here almost mirrors it.
The only issue would be that construction zones—apparently other than in the city of Toronto that last years at a time—may only be in place for months at a time, so I think the question is about engineering. A municipality ought to be able to get a temporary certificate and use this technology in a work zone when you clearly see, on a daily basis, the number of people who are placed at risk.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Well, I just wanted to say, the Day of Mourning is next week and there’s a perfect example of—
Mr. Brian Patterson: It’s in my calendar. Hopefully before I leave we won’t be having as many issues.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I’m glad you raised it. Thank you.
Mr. Brian Patterson: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We thank you, Mr. Patterson, for coming before the committee this afternoon. It’s much appreciated.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next, from Parachute, we have the president and chief executive officer, Pamela Fuselli, with us. Welcome, Ms. Fuselli. You have up to six minutes for your presentation.
Ms. Pamela Fuselli: Okay, great. Thank you. Good afternoon. My name is Pamela Fuselli. I’m the interim CEO at Parachute. Parachute is a national injury prevention charity that focuses on the leading cause of death for Canadians aged one to 44, and that’s preventable injuries. As an evidence-based organization, we have a variety of focuses, including sports and rec—and, in particular, concussions—seniors’ falls, but mostly, motor vehicle collisions.
Recently we have adopted the Vision Zero approach that was proclaimed in the Swedish Parliament in the mid-1990s. This approach has led Sweden to some of the lowest collision rates in the world, almost a third of what Ontario sees. Sweden’s goal, and increasingly municipalities across North America’s goal, is zero serious injuries and fatalities.
Although Ontario has some of the safest roads in North America, that does not mean we can afford to reduce the attention. In 2014, over 34,000 Ontarians were killed or injured in collisions; over 33,000 personal injury collisions involved over 64,000 drivers; and, worst of all, 481 Ontarians were killed. That’s almost 500 families who will never be the same. The numbers can’t communicate the true impact to those families and, in fact, to their communities of the loss of a life from a road crash.
We know effective ways to prevent these deaths and injuries is a comprehensive approach, one that has been spoken about earlier this afternoon. That includes public awareness and education, infrastructure change and enforcement. Bill 65 focuses on both the road environment and enforcement of speed laws.
Research shows that speed plays a significant role. Pedestrians have been shown to have a 90% chance of survival when struck by a car travelling 30 kilometres an hour or below, but less than a 50% chance of surviving an impact at 45 kilometres an hour. Simply said, the slower the car, the probability of a person struck by that car surviving increases. This bill provides tools for strategic and planned interventions at the municipal level to improve safety for all road users and, in particular, pedestrians and cyclists.
Here’s what we know from the research that has been conducted in Canada and countries around the world such as New Zealand, the United States, Hungary, England and by organizations such as the OECD: that automated speed enforcement is effective, and depending on its application, jurisdictions have seen a reduction of between 11% and 35% in the number of collisions and injury crashes; reduction of fatalities by 42% in the state of Victoria, New Zealand; and speed camera sites saw a 70% reduction in those caught speeding with excessive speeding, which was over 15 miles per hour—falling 91%.
Reducing speed limits is effective. Decreasing speed limits specifically in community safety zones has seen a 42% reduction in road casualties. The percentage reduction was greatest for younger children, and greater for serious casualties than for minor injuries.
Red light cameras: A review of nine studies out of the United States found that red light camera interventions appear to decrease violations, crashes and injuries at intersections.
Dollars directed to updating road infrastructure, increased education and public awareness, and enforcement resources for road safety are a good investment. One study showed a positive cost benefit of up to 2.7 to 1.
I’m encouraged by Ontarians’ commitment to reducing preventable injuries on our roads. As an organization, Parachute looks forward to similar ongoing commitments.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you about this important issue today.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): And we thank you. We’ll start with Mr. Harris.
Mr. Michael Harris: Thank you again for coming today. You talk about public awareness and a public awareness campaign. Do you see it as a necessary item for municipalities to do an extensive public awareness campaign on this before rolling out photo radar? What would that look like? Any suggestions on what has been most effective?
Ms. Pamela Fuselli: We know that public awareness is very effective in raising awareness. It doesn’t automatically result in behaviour change.
Public awareness has to start before and during, and continue. It’s something that people need to be reminded of. What we have seen with a lot of public awareness campaigns is they have to be in front of people for a certain amount of time and then changed up. We get comfortable, or we start to ignore some of the public awareness campaigns that we see over and over again. It requires us to be a little inventive. It also requires us to use different tools and levers. Not only the traditional media but social media plays a large part. Peer support, peer influence plays a large part—getting to those community influencers who can talk to their peers and encourage the kind of behaviour that we’re looking for. It really does span a number of different strategies.
Mr. Michael Harris: You did talk about speed limits. Of course, this bill would also allow municipalities to alter speed limits in their own municipalities. I believe they’ve had that right already. Do you see, and have studies shown, significant decreases in incidents by the lowering of speed limits prior to enforcement? I don’t know if you want to speak to just the speed limit issue for now.
Ms. Pamela Fuselli: It’s a comprehensive approach, so it needs to have a number of different components to it. We just talked about education. Enforcement also plays a role.
Designing and influencing the infrastructure that people function in is very effective. We’ve seen, from the different studies that I cited, significant reductions in speed by various measures, like automated speed cameras and speed control.
Mr. Michael Harris: What about other driving behaviours that we’re seeing on our roads? I don’t know if you want to list a few of the major concerns. Of course, we’re talking about speeding, but if you want to share other significant driving behaviours that are top of mind for folks in your organization.
Ms. Pamela Fuselli: Yes. Certainly, any kind of impaired driving, distracted driving. Speed is right up there, one of the top three that we look at in terms of the causes—
Mr. Michael Harris: What are the top three?
Ms. Pamela Fuselli: Distracted, impaired and speeding: Those are the top issues that we are looking at as causes of these collisions. Certainly, we’re interested in different measures that will be effective in addressing those issues.
Mr. Michael Harris: What other measures could be in place to combat distracted driving or impaired driving, through this bill?
Ms. Pamela Fuselli: We have seen the experience in the impaired driving issue over a number of years that sustains what I was talking about before: sustained public awareness, sustained interventions, and the expectation that someone is going to get caught doing the behaviour. Having those different prongs in place gives the most probability of having the most effective way forward. There’s no one magic solution.
Mr. Michael Harris: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Thank you very much. How do we get drivers to slow down?
Ms. Pamela Fuselli: There are a number of different ways. I think there are some of us who are influenced by just knowing some of the statistics that I read to you today; others require more repercussions to their actions. By having the expectation that they will be caught doing the type of behaviour that we are trying to reduce, as in speeding, the more likely they are to change that behaviour.
I think this bill provides that opportunity for drivers in these areas. To have their awareness raised, to have the expectation of a fine will impact behaviour, and we have seen that in different research in various countries.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I noticed that you talked about a lot of the other countries that are already doing this, which kind of makes sense, right?
What I’m going to ask you is, would you find that, when we’re talking about school safety zones, you get a little better buy-in on having cameras in the school zones than you might in other locations? We all have kids, usually, and we all have grandkids, and peer pressure is another one that might do it. Would that be an accurate statement, that you would find that if this was done in our school zones in the province of Ontario it would probably have an immediate effect on our kids being safe when they go to school?
Ms. Pamela Fuselli: Certainly in my experience that has been the case, that the interventions that are for vulnerable populations, like children, have the perception of being more palatable. The good news is that when we make environments safer for those vulnerable road users we actually make it safer for everybody.
Mr. Wayne Gates: The other point that I’ll make: I was a city councillor, and when we change our school safety zones on some of the main streets, it’s on Cable 10, it’s debated among the councillors, and people come and make presentations, so that’s another way to get the education out into our community. I don’t think I can ever recall somebody coming and saying, “No, I want the speed limit actually to go up in a school safety zone,” or “I wouldn’t want a camera there if I know it’s going to keep my kid safe.”
The education part is partly municipalities educating their community on where the needs are and where the residents think the needs are too. Would you agree with that?
Ms. Pamela Fuselli: Absolutely. I think they need to hear it from multiple sources: in their community, at their schools, from the province. The more times people hear the same message from different sources, the more credible it becomes in their minds.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We’ll move to the government. Mr. Anderson.
Mr. Granville Anderson: Ms. Fuselli, thank you for being here and thank you for the work you do in communities throughout Ontario and throughout this great country of ours.
I think this is about more than ideology. It’s common sense to make sure our most vulnerable, our children, are protected. Their safety should be paramount.
Having said that, you came well armed with an whole array of statistics, some of which I wasn’t aware of. Thank you for sharing that with us. You didn’t have any statistics on accidents that occur in school zones. Of course, a young child, five or 10 years old, would be more vulnerable and more susceptible to more serious injuries than an adult. You don’t have any stats that I know of surrounding that of a child.
Since this bill, Bill 65, is really specifically for school zones, would you like to comment on what you think the impact would be of a child being hit versus an adult?
Ms. Pamela Fuselli: When we look at the statistics, the leading cause of death for children is motor vehicle collisions. Some of those would be as occupants, but others would be children as pedestrians and cyclists, other road users.
It’s a significant burden in terms of the cost of injuries to our health care system, but more important, beyond the finances, is the cost of these injuries to children and their communities and their families. When you talk about motor vehicle collisions being the leading cause of death for children under 14, I think that’s a significant issue. Steps like this, as well as some of the other pieces of legislation that Ontario has, like requiring children to be transported in booster seats, go a long way to effectively reducing that burden.
Mr. Granville Anderson: What would you say to the naysayers who say, “Red light cameras: They’re a tax grab”—I’m specifically dealing with school zones. What would you say to those people?
Ms. Pamela Fuselli: I think the evidence shows that it’s very effective. I think the devil is usually in the details and how it is enforced. But when you look at the magnitude of the research and the evidence that supports the use of these types of measures to reduce speed, you can see the value in those measures beyond the dollars that it will bring in.
I would agree with the previous speakers in saying that the funds raised from these types of fines should be directed into more road safety and more injury prevention activities in those municipalities and in the province.
Mr. Granville Anderson: Thank you very much. I understand that my time is up.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you, Ms. Fuselli, for coming in before committee this afternoon. It’s much appreciated.
Ms. Pamela Fuselli: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): You’re welcome.
Ontario Good Roads Association
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next on the agenda, from the Ontario Good Roads Association, we have the manager of policy and research, who has been here at committee in the past: Mr. Scott R. Butler. We welcome you, sir. You have up to six minutes.
Mr. Scott Butler: Thank you for that warm introduction.
Mr. Scott Butler: It matches the temperature in the room.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of Bill 65. The Ontario Good Roads Association, on the whole, is supportive of this.
By way of background, OGRA was founded in 1894. We represent 433 of the 444 municipalities in Ontario. Our mandate is to advocate for their transportation and infrastructure interests.
We’re also here in the spirit that the third time is the charm. We’ve been supportive of this bill when it first came forward in 2011, when MPP Caplan introduced it. We were supportive of it in 2015, when MPP Natyshak introduced it.
That support is motivated by two primary objectives: The first is road safety, and the second one is what I would call municipal self-determination.
In terms of road safety: The bill brings Ontario in line with a number of other leading jurisdictions. We’ve heard them listed off earlier. Norway, UK and New Zealand are ones that we’ve looked at for a comparison basis. In these jurisdictions, we’ve noticed—and statistics bear out—that fatalities decreased by anywhere between 20% and 70%, personal injuries declined by between 10% and 65%, depending on the jurisdiction, and collisions were reduced dramatically as well.
In Canada, similar systems are already in place in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec. Having had the distinct privilege of interfacing with the city of Calgary’s automated speed enforcement, I can tell you that it does have an impact on how you drive in a particular jurisdiction. More importantly, we also know that these devices, in fact, are very successful at protecting vulnerable road users.
In terms of the municipal self-determination angle: We’re happy to see that the rhetoric we often hear about municipal governments being mature orders of government, understanding the needs of constituents, being the closest to constituents—we’re happy to see the reality actually aligning with that rhetoric. For a long time, there has been a rather sizable gap there. We’re delighted that municipalities will have the autonomy to be able to move forward with decisions that should actually enhance the safety of residents without having to come here to Queen’s Park to do any lobbying.
But I would like to reiterate the point made by the Ontario Safety League’s Brian Patterson earlier. If there is one reservation that we have with this bill, it would be the fact that construction zones have been excluded from the provisions in the bill so far. We know, time and time again—and evidence and basic science bears out—that speed is a primary determinant in terms of road safety. What we would like to see is the number and severity of collisions in construction zones reduced by having these systems in place.
I understand and I anticipate that you will hear from a lot of people whinging about this being an affront to civil liberties. It is not. You always retain the right simply to follow the law. These devices and the approaches contained in this bill may actually help provide some clarity for those who may be confused up to this point.
So, with that, I would gladly answer any questions folks may have.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, sir. We appreciate it. We’ll start with Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: How are you, Scott?
Mr. Scott Butler: I’m doing fine. How are you?
Mr. Wayne Gates: I’m great. I’ve got a couple of questions; I’ll read them out to you. It really touches on your last bit, that you supported the bill in 2015—which was very important then, but obviously it didn’t get where it had to go. You clearly outline some areas of the current bill that you feel do not go far enough. One area I noted was the inclusion of areas where workers are present. I find this to be an interesting and compelling argument. Are you able to expand on your rationale with some examples of why you believe this bill should include areas where workers are currently present?
Mr. Scott Butler: I think that when we have workers, whether they’re on the public works side of things or whether they’re private contractors who are working on construction sites, they’re there to ensure that the motoring public is able to get about freely and safely. The fact that they’re being put in significant peril because of their occupation when, in fact, a solution exists that would allow them to do their duties in a safer environment is really the motivation behind that point.
A vehicle going 100 kilometres an hour typically takes about 100 metres to 110 metres to come to a stop. If you reduce that down to 80 kilometres an hour, that comes down to 76. You factor in driver reaction time, and, automatically you’ve made the environment much safer for folks.
The construction industry has been a leader in this in terms of putting up cement barricades and a number of other initiatives. The signs you see posted saying “fines doubled when construction workers present,” I think, are a testament to that. But this would take that to the next level. Simply put, one death is too many.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I agree with you: One death is way too many—and we saw that a few days ago.
Coming back to my previous question, are there some other specific jurisdictions where you believe similar legislation has had a positive impact?
Mr. Scott Butler: I know, from speaking with colleagues across the country, they have noticed, when doing traffic counts in areas where ASCs have been employed, that the traffic has been reduced. The city of Edmonton, in particular, has, I think, seen a fair bit of success. Part of that has been motivated by the fact that there’s a nice alignment between the engineering department in the city and the mayor, who has been a vehement champion of this. That would be one that I would look to.
The reality is, much like road pricing, which I’m not going to get into today, the efficacy bears out. People use them; it works. I think that any jurisdiction that has moved forward with this has seen the results that they’ve anticipated.
Mr. Wayne Gates: If you were to advocate—
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): You’ve got about three seconds, so if I could cut you off there.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Thanks very much, Chair.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): I appreciate it. Sorry.
We’ll move on to the government. Ms. Hoggarth.
Ms. Ann Hoggarth: Thank you, Scott, for your presentation.
OGRA continues to be a valued voice in the transportation sector and continues to provide municipalities with various opportunities to advocate for their interests. As that voice, can you please tell the committee what municipalities have told you about Bill 65? Do they believe this bill will give them additional tools to improve road safety within their borders? And before you answer that, I just wanted to say that I can tell you that as a teacher—my school is a newer school, but it’s on a very wide road. We have the speed indicators up. People just breeze through there. They don’t care. We’ve given them chances. I think it’s time to keep these kids safe.
Mr. Scott Butler: Okay. I guess, by way of background, the OGRA board of directors is comprised of officials—half of them are elected officials, half are senior bureaucrats at the local level. It was unanimous consent when we brought this forward to the board of directors. I think people understood the intentions of the bill, just as they understood the intentions of the two previous iterations.
There are a few concerns that have come out when we’ve been engaging our membership in terms of how some of the provisions contained in the bill will actually be implemented. There may be some unintended consequences with some of the language in there, but that can be sorted out. For the most part, I think there is complete alignment with the spirit of the bill.
The one thing they would like see—and it’s not surprising, given the nature of our mandate—is the same opportunity extended into areas where people find themselves working in roadways.
Ms. Ann Hoggarth: Would you agree that no one is taxed more if you don’t speed?
Mr. Scott Butler: The objective here, ultimately, if you were able to come up with a completely utopian outcome, would be that nobody incurs any fines. Municipalities bear a cost of putting these systems in. If they get 100% compliance, no one gets hurt.
No one that I can recall or that I’m aware of at the local level, certainly in the interactions we’ve had—whether it’s through our board of directors, through some of the membership activities we do or even at the conference—has talked about this as a source of revenue. The primary focus has been exclusively, and remains exclusively, on the safety aspect.
Ms. Ann Hoggarth: Great. Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We shall move to the official opposition. Mr. Harris.
Mr. Michael Harris: Hey, Scott, good afternoon. It’s nice seeing you again.
Mr. Scott Butler: Good afternoon.
Mr. Michael Harris: Scott, you talked about some of the challenges within your group. Now is a great opportunity to talk about some of the measures that can be included in the bill—changes, perhaps. I don’t know if you want to speak to some of those comments from your membership, to help the committee understand those that may have been missed here.
Mr. Scott Butler: Yes. One of our current board members used to work for an engineering firm on road design and road construction, and he spent a lot of time in jurisdictions across Canada, building out complex projects. In Saskatchewan, where they do allow these devices to be used in construction zones, he would testify readily and without reservation that they do slow down traffic. Workers feel safer. Even with those cement medians that you see on a 400-series highway here, there is an overwhelming sense that those devices actually bring a greater degree of safety to the workplace. That would be one thing.
The other thing we’ve heard about is some of the language around the definitions of school zones or community safety zones. Particularly in rural communities, the actual fabric of the roadway may lead to some unintended consequences where a school may be positioned on a side road but may be in the catch basin of an arterial from which there’s no entry point into, say, the schoolyard, and it may be set off by a fence.
Ideally, what we would like to see is the autonomy to define and amend the working definition of what constitutes a community safety zone or a school zone stay at the local level, to respond to local conditions.
Mr. Michael Harris: Shouldn’t there be some sort of consistency at least, though, with regard to the Highway Traffic Act, or community safety zones right across the province, so that motorists—
Mr. Scott Butler: Yes. We’re not talking about creating a patchwork of 444 competing objectives, and the legislation does indicate that it has to be signed. But there should be an ability—and this is based on what we’ve heard from a few townships in particular. They would like to see the ability to sign certain streets, and not all the streets, within the catchment area, in part because the school is situated to the road network in a particular way where it would be unnecessarily burdensome to have it applied across the whole area.
Like I said, it’s a much different beast in a centre like Toronto or Kitchener. In some of these smaller communities, I think there needs to be local consideration given.
Mr. Michael Harris: Thanks.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Good. Thank you, Mr. Butler, for coming before committee this afternoon. It’s appreciated.
Mr. Scott Butler: Thank you.
Mr. Keith Egli
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We shall move to our next delegation. It is via teleconference, everyone. Mr. Keith Egli is a councillor for the city of Ottawa, ward 9, Knoxdale-Merivale. We welcome you, sir. Are you on the line with us this afternoon?
Mr. Keith Egli: I am on the line, yes. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Okay. Could you hold for just a second? I think we need a bit more volume for us here. Can you do a test?
Mr. Keith Egli: Sure. Can you hear me now?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Yes, we can hear you perfectly. We welcome you, sir. You have up to six minutes for your presentation.
Mr. Keith Egli: Thank you very much. I want to thank Minister Naqvi, to start, for working with the city of Ottawa on this. He was a huge help in garnering support across the board with committee and council.
I serve as the chair of the transportation committee, and I can tell you that we had a very energized and interesting discussion at committee around the idea of photo radar, gateway signage and all the other components of the bill.
The support from the minister in this regard was very helpful in getting the message across that we wanted to partner with Queen’s Park. We wanted to work with the provincial government, in such a way that we could create safer roads for some of our most vulnerable populations, such as students and seniors, and this was a good way to do it. It was a balanced way to do it, in the sense that nobody is hiding in the bushes, nobody is waiting to take advantage of people, as the previous speaker was alluding to in some of the questions.
We’re very supportive of the idea that this be a very public approach, that this be a system whereby everybody knows they’re going into a speeding zone, and it’s really about public education. When I was being interviewed around the time of this particular piece of the project going forward, what I often said in the media was that I didn’t really care if the city issued a single ticket. If that meant that people were in compliance around our schools and our parks and our seniors’ centres, then we would have achieved our goal. Our goal is public education, to get the idea across that we want to make our streets safer.
Unfortunately, sometimes—you have the stick and you have the carrot, and sometimes you have to use both to achieve your purpose. But certainly the city of Ottawa is open and willing to endorse this. I think we’ve shown that through our votes both at committee and council and through the follow-up letter by the mayor to the provincial government saying that we’re fully supportive of this approach and we would like to get it sooner rather than later. Speeding is probably the single most significant and consistent complaint that a city councillor gets. I get them from my ward, and because of my role as chair, I get them from all across the city, in terms of issues around speeding.
The optimum solution, of course, is to have a police officer in front of every school and at every intersection waiting to hand out tickets, but the reality and the practicality of utilisation of our resources means that we can’t do that. In light of that fact, I think the gateway signage, the photo radar—these would be really exceptional tools in our tool box to move the agenda forward, which is to keep, as I say, all of our residents safe on the streets, regardless of how they choose to get around, whether it be walking, cycling, taking the bus or driving. Speed has an impact on every mode of transportation and every individual that’s moving around on our streets.
We see this as a significant step forward in how we can deal with this problem. Again, the city would readily welcome the legislation to pass in its current form and to give us those tools so we can move forward and deal with those issues.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. Do you have anything else to add?
Mr. Keith Egli: Just that, as I say, we would be happy to take it on as soon as you can pass it down to the cities for implementation.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. I’ll start the line of questioning. We will start with the government and Ms. Vernile.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: Thank you very much and good afternoon to you there in Ottawa. How are you today?
Mr. Keith Egli: Very good. It’s a beautiful day here—a little cold, but nice and sunny.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: Okay. We’re moving in the right direction with the weather, though.
I see here that you have served as the chair of the city’s transportation committee, and I want you to know that we have heard from councillors and mayors and chiefs of police from right across Ontario who are telling us the same thing you are telling us; that is, that you want to see speed enforcement technology.
If you’ve been following the debate on this, in our second reading, the government, in advancing this, had support from the NDP, but the Conservatives voted against this. They are calling this a cash grab. You have a couple of members of the Progressive Conservative Party here this afternoon. What would you say to them directly?
Mr. Keith Egli: Well, I think what I said initially is that I would be happy if we didn’t hand out a single ticket; that means the message got across. But of course, the reality is that if this goes into place, there are going to be tickets. Our approach at the city is that we think any money that is generated by this should go into further traffic calming. It should not go into the general budget for the city, but be used, again, to continue to make our roads safer in a variety of different ways.
One of the pilot projects that we took on a couple of years ago at the city is, each councillor has an individual budget of $40,000 to implement in his or her ward for the purposes of traffic calming. This could easily be a funding source for that budget or even to increase that budget to take on innovative things like speed signs, pavement markings, middle-of-the-road bollards, all sorts of things.
So I would say to them that the money would be well used, and it wouldn’t go into the general revenues but would be used for a very specific purpose, and that’s to keep our roads safe.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We shall move to the official opposition. Mr. Harris.
Mr. Michael Harris: Hi. Good afternoon, Keith. Keith, how would the city of Ottawa’s council designate or define what a community safety zone is? Or have they already done so?
Mr. Keith Egli: We’ve had some discussions around that already, but of course, we would wait to see what the final bill says. The devil is in the details, and often these things are found in the regulations. Our staff is already standing ready to open those discussions with the province and to work with the province on the legislation.
I think some flexibility from individual cities—every city and town is a little bit different. We’re obviously one of the larger cities, and our concerns might be different, for example, from Perth or Hamilton.
So a little bit of flexibility would help. We’re willing to enter into that dialogue in good faith.
Mr. Michael Harris: Are you familiar with speed display signs?
Mr. Keith Egli: Absolutely. We use them all the time.
Mr. Michael Harris: Have they been rolled out within Ottawa?
Mr. Keith Egli: Showing how fast people are going? Absolutely. That’s part of what councillors are spending their $40,000 budgets on. They’ve been quite helpful.
Mr. Michael Harris: Have you seen success with speed display signs?
Mr. Keith Egli: We have. I’m going to say that part of that success—I probably shouldn’t say this in such a public forum, but I often hear from people that they think there’s a camera there, so that’s why they’re slowing down.
Mr. Michael Harris: Thanks very much.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We’ll move to the third party. Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: That was quick. I wasn’t expecting that to come so quickly. I thought you’d have more questions.
Keith, how are you doing?
Mr. Keith Egli: I’m doing well, thank you.
Mr. Wayne Gates: It’s a great day in Ottawa today, with your Senators winning.
Mr. Keith Egli: Absolutely. We’re on our way.
Mr. Wayne Gates: It’s great to see a Canadian team still playing. It’s wonderful for the city.
I want to congratulate you, first off, on being the chair. Sometimes you’re chair of committees—I was a city councillor—and you don’t get the buy-in from the community. When I see the number of people who are presenting today from Ottawa—you’ve obviously done a really good job. It’s obviously a huge issue in Ottawa around speeding and things like that. So I just wanted to say congratulations on what I would probably consider a job well done.
Mr. Keith Egli: Thank you.
Mr. Wayne Gates: The fact that you’re giving $40,000 to put up the signs—do you use any speed bumps as well in your community?
Mr. Keith Egli: We do have speed bumps, and that’s under a separate program. The $40,000 is used for what is called temporary traffic calming—things that can be moved around, or that go in in the spring and come out in the winter, that sort of thing.
Mr. Wayne Gates: And you obviously believe that cameras work?
Mr. Keith Egli: Without question. We’ve seen it with red light cameras. As I said, the speed signs work in large part because people think there is a camera there, and they’re worried about being caught.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Has there been a call from schools, trustees, parents or even the general members of the public to address road safety?
Mr. Keith Egli: Absolutely. We had huge engagement at the committee meeting. Quite a number of delegations came out and, if I recollect, everybody spoke in favour of adopting this kind of approach. It was from a wide variety of constituencies, but we certainly heard from parents and schools. Yes, no question,
Mr. Wayne Gates: What are some of the challenges in Ottawa around people speeding?
Mr. Keith Egli: Again, as I said during my remarks, in a perfect world we’d have a police officer in front of every school and at every troublesome intersection, for enforcement purposes. Enforcement is the key. You can put up all the signs you want but, again, to go to my carrot-and-stick analogy, if there isn’t a stick there, then they don’t have the impact they should have.
We see good success with the speed signs, and I think that would only be enhanced if there was actually a penalty attached to it.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Thank you very much. Enjoy your day.
Mr. Keith Egli: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Councillor, we thank you for taking the time and joining us this afternoon, and wish you all the best.
Mr. Keith Egli: Thanks for letting me do so.
Allenby Junior Public School
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next on the agenda, from Allenby Junior Public School, we have the principal, Ms. Tracey O’Toole. We welcome you, Ms. O’Toole.
Ms. Tracey O’Toole: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): You have up to six minutes for your presentation, followed by three minutes of questioning from each of the party members.
Ms. Tracey O’Toole: Perfect. I want to thank the members of the standing committee for allowing me to speak today. My name is Tracey O’Toole, and I’m the proud principal of Allenby public school, one of the largest schools in the TDSB, educating over 800 students from kindergarten to grade 6.
We are located at 391 St. Clements Avenue, in the heart of Toronto. Our school is bordered by Avenue Road to the east. The area serving our school is densely populated, with much vehicular traffic in and around our school zone. Most of this traffic is on Avenue Road, a major thoroughfare in the city of Toronto, providing motorists a four-lane north-south artery.
In the proximity of our school, Avenue Road is marked as a school zone, with flashing signs posted alerting motorists to a reduced speed of 40 kilometres an hour during school times. These signs continually prove ineffective in slowing the speed of traffic on Avenue Road. This statement is based on city of Toronto data, the number of accidents which have occurred at the corner of our school—eight this school year alone, since September—and our work as a school community in trying to provide a safer school zone.
Over my last year and a half at Allenby, traffic safety is an issue that is brought to my attention on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Safety of students is always paramount; however, being the principal of Allenby, that means that the safety of our students has been focused primarily on their journey to and from school, not the safety within our building. This is a concern shared with me by staff, parents, the Allenby Parents’ Association, community members and also our students. We are committed to the safe arrival and departure of all our students, and this year it proved necessary to create a safety task force to identify and address these safety issues.
This year we have worked alongside Councillor Carmichael Greb, Toronto Police Service, the city of Toronto transportation department and community partners to implement strategies to improve pedestrian safety for our students. We have been working thoughtfully, collaboratively and creatively to implement new initiatives to protect our children. We have addressed city council in support of reduced speed limits on Avenue Road. We’ve worked to install new signage at the intersection of Castlefield and Avenue Road, limiting hours that cars can travel through this intersection.
Toronto Police Service has been responsive in trying to enforce these new measures. Our students accompanied me to city council. They have written letters to the city, myself and Toronto Police Service advocating for crossing guards, reduced speed limits, and doing traffic studies of their own on Avenue Road.
Two weeks ago, we participated in a pilot project with Toronto Police Service, pulling vehicles aside on Avenue Road who were speeding. In one hour, we pulled over at least 30 vehicles, issuing warnings in place of tickets. The students also reviewed my deputation today, ensuring that their message about the importance of travelling to school safely was clear. All of their work was part of an inquiry on community issues. The largest community issue we face at Allenby is traffic safety.
However, this is not a new issue. Three years ago, two teachers at our school were struck by a vehicle and were seriously injured as they walked across Avenue Road at Glencairn. Their injuries resulted in the end of their teaching careers. I keep this in mind each time out of the eight times this year that I’ve run out of the office to the corner of Castlefield and Avenue, hoping that there isn’t another member of our community who has been seriously injured.
We have been working tirelessly to create a safer community. Photo radar in school zones is one more measure to assist us in ensuring the safety for our students.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much for your presentation. It’s much appreciated. We shall start—are you ready?
Mrs. Julia Munro: Yes.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Oh, okay. Ms. Munro. It’s usually Michael; Mr. Harris was taking the lead.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Thank you very much for coming. I want to disclose immediately that I am a frequent driver in that area, and I am appalled at what I see, just driving through. I once saw somebody cut ahead of me, or come out and pass me and cut out, and there was radar right there. It was such a refreshing moment that somebody who had no interest in that sign that says “40 kilometres”—so I come to this conversation, certainly, with the personal experience on many occasions of driving past that intersection.
I guess what frustrates me is that, particularly when you can talk about the people who have been injured and the scare that that has—it’s a problem for parents feeling their children are safe. Is there any one particular action that you see as a possible way of making drivers take seriously—that’s where I think the problem lies. People don’t have any idea, when they cross Eglinton, if they’re coming northbound, and there’s that S-curve and the hill. It’s there as a potential threatening circumstance, and nobody takes it seriously. Have you got any ideas for how to make drivers recognize the danger that they represent?
Ms. Tracey O’Toole: Yes. One of the previous speakers—one of the questions that was posed to them was about the signs that show what speed you’re at. In the city of Toronto, it’s really hard, first, to get those signs installed but also to get—they have some on—
Mrs. Julia Munro: Wheels.
Ms. Tracey O’Toole: —a cart that they deliver; right? They have to be charged; there’s a period of time between each time they’re delivered. That particular stretch by our school: They’ve been out multiple times trying to get that. The tricky part is finding the exact location in order to make it effective, especially for northbound traffic. When we spoke to city council, what we discovered was that, between Lawrence and Eglinton, the signage for the speed change is something like seven times, and that’s because of curves where it’s recommended to go slower—the flashing lights.
We did our pilot project. We pulled over a car that was going 75 kilometres an hour in a 40 zone with the flashing lights. We didn’t pull over any car that was going less than 50 kilometres an hour, even though it was 40 kilometres. I think photo radar will help.
There are other initiatives that we are undertaking that I didn’t announce today. One of them is a huge banner that will run the length of our fence along Avenue Road, alerting motorists, “Please drive as if your children attend Allenby.” But really, I think ultimately it’s about people getting the ticket. I’m going to be honest: That’s what’s going to change it. It’s not going to be about the signage that’s up. It’s not going to be about the photo radar blitz that we’ve done with Toronto Police Services, where we’re pulling them over and having a discussion with the motorist about speeding. It’s going to be about that.
The chair of the Allenby Parents’ Association is on after me, and she’s going to share with you photos of these accidents. These are not just traffic accidents. These are not cars that are travelling even close to 40 kilometres an hour. These are vehicles that are coming right up onto the sidewalk at dismissal time, multiple occasions this year, and are also taking down barriers that are preventive barriers between the sidewalk and the road. That’s also very concerning for our community because our sidewalk is so close to the roadway. We don’t have that grass buffer.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Well, I’m saddened to hear that those haven’t been as successful as we would all wish, but I think that taking it to the driving is the issue, in my opinion. The one I described—he must have been doing at least 60 or 70 when he passed me. It was just one of those times when you think, “Oh, good. The police were in the right spot at the right time.” But I can also attest to the fact that we could have used—I’ve seen it myself, how many more times we could have done better.
I appreciate you coming because of the fact that these are other people’s children we’re talking about, and it certainly deserves our attention. Thank you.
Ms. Tracey O’Toole: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Well, I’m going to start out—you can be saddened all you want; then support the bill. We supported this bill in 2011. You’re teachers. When they got hit by a car, it ended their career, and that’s how important this bill is. I want to compliment you—and my wife is a principal. I can tell by the passion in your voice how much it hurts to have your co-workers get hit needlessly on a busy road because people are speeding. I want to say to you: Thanks very much for being here. This bill’s going to give us an opportunity—is it going to fix everything? Probably not, but it’s certainly going to send a clear message that speeding around school zones and the safety of not only our parents and our seniors but the one thing that—you’re the first one who brought it up: the teachers who are out there every day bringing the kids into the classroom. I can tell how much you were hurt when that happened.
We have to fix this. We have to fix it for you; we have to fix it for our kids; we have to fix it for the teachers.
It’s a little off the subject, but I just did a lockout. I walked with the teachers down in Niagara Catholic District School Board. I could tell how much they love their students, how much they just enjoy going to school every day, doing their job. An injury to a student affects the entire staff. The entire staff is hurt. They just want to teach, and they want to go to school and be safe.
Ms. Tracey O’Toole: And one of my colleagues is facing that after an accident—a principal—in a school zone just last week.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Yes, it’s awful. And to the kids—I was at the NDP convention this weekend and one of the questions to me was, “How do we get people involved in politics?” Well, here’s one: young kids in a school, caring about them—caring about their teachers, caring about their community—and young people doing what they’re doing, to make it safe for them. We’ve got an obligation as politicians—all three of these parties—to do everything we can through laws to make sure their day is safe and that they go home at night to spend loving time with their parents and their grandparents.
I really am very impressed with you coming here. I know it’s hard for you today. Quite frankly, I can see the hurt in your face. But we’re going to get this done. Let your teachers know that it’s going to get done and they’ll be able to be safe when they go to school.
Thanks for coming. I appreciate it.
Ms. Tracey O’Toole: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. Ms. Hoggarth.
Ms. Ann Hoggarth: Thank you very much for coming in today. I enjoyed your presentation.
As a former educator, I was saying earlier that the school that I was at until 2014 is right on a very busy road, and no matter what kind of method or whatever is put in place to slow people down, it’s not working. They don’t care that the light is flashing and that they’re going 70 in a 40 zone. It doesn’t bother them one little bit.
My school is not on as busy a street as Avenue Road. I do go by there, and I do see what happens. It is very unfortunate. It’s completely wrong. It amazes me that parents do that. I don’t think they realize that it could be their kids.
As an educator, in the Education Act, one of the conditions of our employment is that we take care of the safety and look after those children and keep them safe. I thank you very much for such great advocacy.
We know that children are some of our most vulnerable road users. As a principal, what do you see on the municipal roads that concerns you most when it comes to the safety of our children, and how do the measures contained in this bill answer those concerns?
Ms. Tracey O’Toole: The largest concern is speed. As I stated, bordering Avenue Road, we see that every day. As one of the other members said, we’ve had a great partnership with Toronto Police Service. It’s great to see them out there enforcing it. They could be out there all day long, every day, pulling over cars. As much as they’ve tried to be present, there needs to be something else, because people are still speeding.
It’s the impact of the speed—there are other factors that are going into some of the accidents at our intersection. Most of the accidents are happening at Castlefield and Avenue. We’ve tried to get signage to prevent cars from going through that intersection—it’s four lanes. But the impact of those accidents—and I think you have some of the images now—would not be caused if the cars on Avenue Road were going 40 kilometres an hour. We wouldn’t see the amount of destruction in the vehicles. We wouldn’t see cars going up on to the sidewalk across three lanes of traffic. We wouldn’t be seeing that if cars were travelling at the appropriate speed.
Ms. Ann Hoggarth: So you believe that this is a good measure—the fines, in particular?
Ms. Tracey O’Toole: Absolutely.
Ms. Ann Hoggarth: Thank you so much for your advocacy and your support.
Ms. Tracey O’Toole: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you, Principal O’Toole, for sharing your comments with us this afternoon. It’s much appreciated.
Allenby Parents’ Association
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next, from the Allenby school parent association, we have the chair, Ms. Lisa Parker. Is Mr. Heath with you as well?
Ms. Lisa Parker: Mr. Heath is with me, yes.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Okay. You have up to six minutes for your presentation. The floor is yours.
Ms. Lisa Parker: Good afternoon, and thank you to the Standing Committee on General Government for giving community partners the opportunity to speak about issues that impact our communities directly.
I’d also like to thank the transportation minister, Honourable Steven Del Duca, for recognizing the need to strengthen road safety in school zones for our most vulnerable pedestrians.
My name is Lisa Parker, and I chair, in a volunteer capacity, the Allenby Parents’ Association. I’m here today representing 800 students, kindergarten to grade 6, and the 500 families that make up the Allenby community.
Typically, our mandate has been to enrich the learning environment of our students. Unfortunately, this year, a major area focus for our group has been directed towards student safety. In fact, we’ve had to create a safety task force that is devoted solely to our children’s basic need of safety as it pertains to their commute to and from school.
As you heard from our principal, Tracey O’Toole, our school is located in midtown Toronto and is bordered by Avenue Road on the east side of the property. The enrolment boundaries are such that our students are crossing Avenue Road and walking along Avenue Road to get to school.
According to city of Toronto transportation services, Avenue Road is categorized as an arterial road. Its primary function is to deliver traffic to and from the 401 at the highest level of service possible.
Despite its use as a major artery, the 2.3-kilometre stretch of Avenue Road that exists in our community not only includes our school but also a city park, two nursery schools, a seniors’ residence, a private school and a high school. This stretch of Avenue Road is characterized by sidewalks that are right up against the four-lane roadway. There are at least seven posted speeds, as Tracey mentioned.
We have over 4,000 students who attend the schools located along this stretch of Avenue Road. Getting to and from school for these 4,000 students is hazardous in so many ways, and the speed of vehicular traffic is the main contributing factor.
Motorists along Avenue Road refuse to slow down, and our community is extremely concerned about the speed at which the vehicles are travelling. Our school zone is identified with a sign and a flashing light, and it has the speed limit posted at 40 kilometres per hour. Historical data tells us that vehicles are travelling between 58 and 65 kilometres an hour in our 40-kilometre-an-hour school zone.
A few weeks ago, we heard from Tracey that our grade 5 class was invited to participate in a project with Toronto Police Service. They were radaring alongside police. In only 60 minutes, with three radar guns being used, our students and Toronto police pulled over at least 30 cars for speeding. Most were given verbal warnings. One motorist was travelling at 75 kilometres an hour, almost double the speed limit, and was issued a ticket for that, in such an extreme case. Another motorist was going so fast, they totally missed the police officer flagging them down and drove off without stopping. They were unable to stop.
Having had the opportunity to participate in this radaring program with the students has made us realize just how many people are breaking the law every day.
Automated speed enforcement has been referred to as a cash grab by some. However, in the case of protecting our school zones, we think it would be better referred to as a convenience fee. If a motorist would like the convenience of speeding in our school zones and putting our children’s lives at risk, then they should pay for that convenience. The cost of the convenience should be high enough that motorists think twice about putting our children’s lives at risk.
I had a parent comment that they feel as though our school is under siege—the siege of speeding motor vehicles, I suppose. It seems a bit dramatic, but when I put up some of the pictures of the accidents that have occurred since August, you might also feel the same way. Many of these accidents happened directly in front of our school, at the intersection of Castlefield and Avenue Road, either right before or right after our students were dismissed for the day.
We have seen a dramatic increase in motor vehicles being T-boned as they try to cross the perpendicular traffic of four lanes of speeding traffic. When the north-southbound car is travelling at high speeds on Avenue Road, and an east-westbound vehicle is struck, that east-westbound vehicle is thrown up onto the very sidewalk that our children are walking on.
Just a few pictures—they’re also in the handout. A vehicle is up on the sidewalk. This one is not so dramatic but is still an accident. This was the latest. It’s happening on sunny days. It’s happening on rainy days. It’s happening much too frequently.
Between April 6 and April 16, emergency services were dispatched three times in response to multi-car collisions just steps away from Allenby and also a nearby high school, Marshall McLuhan. During this 10-day period, the Allenby community was happy to be contacted by our local MPP, Mike Colle, who takes the safety issue very seriously, and he’s the one who invited us today.
We believe that road redesign is likely the best outcome for our stretch of Avenue Road, but in the shorter term, slowing down traffic through increased enforcement of the speed limit is key. We recognize that our police officers are needed in other places around the city. We thank them for the time that they do give us but it’s not enough. We need more, and it makes sense to leverage the available technology, like photo radar, to help us. We’re desperate for help.
We’re only a couple of neighbourhoods away from Leaside, where a child was killed by a motorist. We heard about an unfortunate accident that happened on Friday, where a six-year-old was killed by a motorist. We’ve had two Allenby teachers struck by a vehicle walking home from school, ending their careers. We’ve seen too many accidents at Castlefield and Avenue Road. We know the impact that a pedestrian injury or death can have on our community.
Given the speed of traffic on Avenue Road, we think it’s just a matter of time before a student, teacher or community member is seriously injured or killed, and we would like to know that we have done everything in our power to prevent such a tragedy. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We shall start with the NDP. Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Good afternoon. I think you probably heard some of my comments around your school and how sad it is. But I’m going to repeat it again: We could have had this bill passed in 2011, 2015, 2017. We have to get it passed this time. It has to move forward. Your kids, your parents, your teachers shouldn’t have to live through this every day. It’s got to be awful to even send the kids to school. It sounds to me like you’re doing the right things—you’re involving the police; you’re putting the kids out there and the police officers, showing them what they’re doing—and it’s still happening right in front of their faces.
Obviously this bill would help. I think I said to your principal that it’s not going to fix everything, but it’s going to help. I can tell you, you have the full support of the NDP on this issue. We’re supporting the bill, as you know, and we’ll do everything we can to try to get this thing passed as quickly as we can.
I already said my wife is a principal; my daughters are teachers. Honestly, I’m just shocked by the story. I’ll be honest with you: I didn’t know this was going on in a part of Toronto. I apologize that I didn’t know, but then, you told more than your principal told, that a couple of young kids are getting killed just past the school. We’ve got to fix it.
I appreciate you coming. I don’t really have questions. It’s heartbreaking to even listen to your story.
Ms. Lisa Parker: Thank you for your time.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We shall move to the government. Mr. Anderson.
Mr. Granville Anderson: Thank you for coming, Lisa, and thank you for your advocacy on behalf of our kids. I served on a parents’ council at one time before I became a trustee, so I know the work and the commitment and the dedication you put into that.
I’ll tell you a little story. Parents are so passionate about the safety of their children that they actually had markings in the road. They painted them themselves, which was annoying to the mayor and the council. So I know how passionate this is. While I was a trustee, I worked with the municipality—I know it’s much smaller than Toronto—to reduce speed limits around schools, so I know the importance of that. Reducing the speed, even if a kid gets hit—God forbid—saves lives. They have a better chance of surviving at a way lower speed, and there are statistics that support that.
In addition to your advocacy around your school, can you tell me some other things you do to provide safety for your students?
Ms. Lisa Parker: Some other things at the school that we’re doing?
Mr. Granville Anderson: Yes.
Ms. Lisa Parker: We’ve established drop zones for those families that do need to drive their children to school, such that children can enter and exit vehicles safely on either side of the school. We have parent volunteers who run that every morning. We are working on signs around the drop zone.
Dave, anything else to add?
Mr. David Heath: We’re starting social media campaigns to send out messages on Facebook. We find Twitter to be very effective to advertise what we are doing.
Mr. Granville Anderson: I know, being on parents’ council, that you do meet other members from other school councils. What do they think of photo radar as a deterrent?
Ms. Lisa Parker: I haven’t actually spoken to other parent councils about the photo radar issue.
Mr. Granville Anderson: Okay. What does your council think of it, in general?
Ms. Lisa Parker: Oh, at our school? Our council is in support of photo radar. All parents have told me they believe that enforcement of the speed limit is needed in our school zone. As Tracey mentioned, we do have no-turning restrictions to try and prevent the westbound traffic from crossing four lanes. Signs are just not helping. Drivers just do whatever they please, regardless of the signage. I think there need to be some sort of repercussions that speak directly to drivers.
Mr. Granville Anderson: You alluded to: The fine should be high enough to be a deterrent, and I agree with you. Probably it should be double or triple for school zones versus other areas. Any thoughts on that?
Ms. Lisa Parker: Yes, I do have a thought on that, actually. I was caught speeding in a school zone going downhill on Spadina. I was doing 60 in a 40. I think I lost a couple of points with that ticket. I wasn’t speeding on purpose; I was simply going to get groceries. But that ticket really spoke to me. You’d better believe that I drive 40 in that zone all the time. I’m very aware and conscious now of my speed when I’m driving, having seen the carnage around our school and having received that ticket.
Mr. Granville Anderson: I believe my time is up. Thank you for all you do for your community.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much for your presentation. It’s much appreciated.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next on the agenda—via teleconference again, members of the committee—we have the chair of Home4Good, Leslie Bella, with us. Members of the committee, you have been provided with a copy of the presentation or some additional information. It’s in your package provided by the Clerk.
At this time, Ms. Bella, we would like to welcome you to committee this afternoon. You have up to six minutes for your presentation. The floor is yours.
Ms. Leslie Bella: Thank you very much. Also on the line with me is Sondra Buchner. If you look at the back of the materials that we provided to you, there’s a chronological—
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Excuse me, Ms. Bella. Could you start over again? We were just having some technical volume difficulties here. I think we have them corrected. Please speak loud.
Ms. Leslie Bella: I’ll speak loud—loud and clear.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you.
Ms. Leslie Bella: Thank you very much for giving us this opportunity. I have with me on this teleconference also Sondra Buchner, who was the person who was involved when our village was struggling with this issue for several years. The chronology of their efforts is attached to our letter. If you have questions about that, she would be able to answer them for you.
Can you hear me now?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Yes, go ahead.
Ms. Leslie Bella: All right. Thank you very much. Home4Good is a locally based community organization that’s concerned about the well-being of seniors in our community. We are a seniors’ retirement community as well as a tourist community. We’re located on the shore of Lake Huron about an hour west of Stratford, which is why we’re not able to come and see you in person. The opportunity to do this by teleconference was very welcome.
We have three priorities in terms of allowing people to continue to live in their own homes. The one that we’re addressing today is the issue of transportation, because as they get older, some people are unable to drive; some people are disabled in a variety of ways. So getting around, especially in a small village like ours where there’s no public transportation, becomes an issue.
For us, Highway 21 bisects our village. Highway 21 is a provincial highway that links Sarnia and Barrie. It has heavy traffic, particularly in the summer. It has a lot of truck traffic. It has a speed limit within the village which is not generally observed. We do have short attempts to control the speed with the help of police, but they have not been effective in producing any permanent solution.
Our attempt to get a community safety zone was fully supported through the community and by our municipality, but we were turned down because we didn’t have a school. Well, we’re a seniors’ community. We don’t have a seniors’ residence, but we have a lot of senior residents. So we were delighted to find that Bill 65, as we originally understood it, would give our municipality an opportunity to put more controls on the speed limit through our village, which we think is approaching dangerous levels at this point.
However, as in many of these things, the devil is in the details. When we looked at the legislation, it seemed to us that, in fact, as a provincial highway, Highway 21, which bisects our village, would not be covered by this legislation. We want to make it absolutely clear to you that we need to be able to control the speed limit through our village, through the municipal government, which does support our efforts, but which was not successful in getting a community safety zone.
I’d be glad to try and answer some questions and look forward to any comments you have on our position and on any interpretation you have of the legislation—whether in fact our interpretation is correct, that Highway 21 would not be covered. This is distressing to us because if it’s excluded, it’s probably an example of urban bias, where legislation is developed to solve an urban problem and its application in small communities is not fully thought through.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We appreciate your comments, Madam Chair.
We will start with the Liberal side, and we will go to Ms. Vernile.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: Thank you, Leslie and Sondra, for calling in today. This is Daiene Vernile and I represent Kitchener Centre. How are you today?
Ms. Leslie Bella: Well, thank you. It’s sunny here. We’re happy.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: How are things on the shores of Lake Huron?
Ms. Leslie Bella: Beautiful.
Ms. Sondra Buchner: Beautiful.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: Wonderful. This afternoon, we’ve been hearing from many people who are weighing in, such as you have, with comments on how they want to see Bill 65 go through. In fact, just before you, we had a school principal and some parents from a particular school in downtown Toronto, and yet it’s important for us to hear from people such as yourself who are in some smaller communities.
Up until now, we’ve been talking about safety zones around schools, but I’m so glad to hear you talking about community safety zones. I just want you to know that we support you. We’ve heard from the NDP. They fully support Bill 65, but unfortunately the Conservative Party has stood against this legislation. In fact, they debated in the House how they did not want to see Bill 65 expanded past school zones. They don’t want to see community safety zones. So here’s your opportunity to speak to them directly. What would you say to members of the Conservative Party who don’t support this measure?
Ms. Leslie Bella: I would be very disappointed because we live in a village and a part of Huron county where most residents vote Conservative, and yet we really strongly, in this village, support this legislation and its effective application within our village.
Ms. Sondra Buchner: Might I add—this is Sondra speaking now—I’m the person who several years ago headed our hope and dream to get a community safety zone in place. In 2013, we were denied that request. We had full co-operation of our municipality. It’s interesting that you mentioned the Conservative Party—we had full co-operation and support from our MPP, Lisa Thompson, and the full support of the CAO of our municipality and our several different volunteer groups—I believe it’s 12—within the village itself, as well as the director of health for the county, because of course she understands the importance of walking and keeping healthy that way.
In any case, the only people who would not support our application designation—oh, we had the full support of MTO as well.
The only group that would not support that was our local detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police. They said they were neutral when it came to community safety zones in our particular case, because first of all, we did not have the school zone and, more importantly from their point of view, we did not have statistics of enough accidents to warrant what they thought would be helped by community safety zones.
As a result, since the ministry that looks after designating safety zones is the ministry that also looks after the OPP, we were denied that access—
Ms. Daiene Vernile: I would suggest you ask Ms. Thompson why it is that she did not support this. We do support it, and we want to see it go through. Thank you very much.
Ms. Leslie Bella: We have actually written to Lisa Thompson and made this point to her.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We shall move to the third party, the NDP. Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: The second party is next, right? The Conservatives are next?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): They’re next, but there is no one in the chair, so I’m going to move to you.
Mr. Wayne Gates: So they’re not here. Okay. I just wanted—
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I’m just saying. I wanted to be sure that, somehow, I was supposed to be second. I’m doing my notes here, and all of a sudden, they’ve got empty chairs. I just wanted to say that.
Thanks very much for taking the time to call in. It’s certainly appreciated. What I will say is—and it doesn’t matter whether it’s an NDP or a Conservative or a Liberal—if somebody says they support you, then it’s our obligation to make sure we support you, whether that was me saying that to a resident in Niagara Falls. But when you have an opportunity to vote in the House and you vote against it, that usually tells me that they’re not supporting you.
That’s what happened on this bill. This bill actually came forward in 2011. It has come forward in 2015. Hopefully, it will get done in 2017.
It’s too bad you’re not here, because if you had heard the story around the school zone here in Toronto that has had teachers get hit by cars, and young people, young kids, getting killed, you’d know how important it is to get this bill done.
We’re going to continue to support the bill. I think school safety zones are important.
Ms. Leslie Bella: Thank you.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Hopefully, they’re just as important in my community as they are in yours.
Ms. Leslie Bella: Well, if you were making notes while we were making our presentation, I’ll make it clear here: We are actually not a community with a lot of children. We’re a community with a lot of frail adults.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Yes, seniors.
Ms. Leslie Bella: Frail, old seniors—seniors who are not living in congregational housing but in small homes and condos. They are not considered a group of seniors that is sufficiently big—although they are the majority of us in the village—to justify a community safety zone. So we are sort of caught in this situation where our needs are not being recognized.
We hope that this new legislation will actually give our municipal government more flexibility in granting the kinds of things that will make our village safe for all of us.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I really do appreciate that. You’re absolutely right: There are a lot more seniors there than there would be kids. Certainly, I’ve taken notes and I appreciate your comments.
Ms. Leslie Bella: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): I want to thank Ms. Bella and Ms. Buchner for sharing your comments with us this afternoon. It is much appreciated. We wish you a great end to the day.
Ms. Leslie Bella: Good luck with this legislation. I hope you will be able to tell us—can you tell us clearly whether Highway 21, a provincial highway through a village, would be covered by this legislation?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): My only final comment is, that would be up to members of the committee to submit amendments to the existing legislation—
Ms. Leslie Bella: It would require an amendment for that to be the case, would it?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Yes.
Ms. Leslie Bella: Then I really strongly encourage you to make that amendment that would allow us to control speeds on a provincial highway that goes through a village or built-up community in a rural area.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. Again, we appreciate your comments, and I’m sure the committee will take them into consideration.
Ms. Sondra Buchner: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you. Have a great day.
Mr. Peter Wood
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next on the agenda, we have Mr. Peter Wood with us this afternoon. We welcome you, sir. You have up to six minutes for your presentation, followed by three minutes of questioning from each of the parties.
Mr. Peter Wood: I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to speak today. First of all, I’d like to raise the issue of open and transparent government. This bill is titled to be about school safety zones, but it actually covers any municipal road. Essentially, any municipal road could be designated a community safety zone. As we know there are residential areas, there are a number of areas that were mentioned in some of the previous comments. The bottom line is that could also include expressways. Hamilton has already stated their interest in potentially putting it on expressways in that area.
I think there’s a great opportunity for this bill to be abused if it was implemented as is, clearly, because the designation of the community safety zone and the speed limits would be under the municipality and not necessarily traffic engineers. Also, as we know, buffer zones can be put in around these areas, so you could be introducing that ridiculously low speed limit outside of that. As we know, there can be a relatively small proportion of the population in an area that are not necessarily representative of the greater view on this, and they can potentially get their way through this.
I think there’s no rigour with this bill. There needs to be some rigour put into this bill and focus in on the safety aspects of it. This is not a bill that’s focused on safety. It’s a bill that’s focused on revenue.
Let’s say, by way of example, there is the comparison between Ottawa and Edmonton. Edmonton’s got photo radar. They’ve got over 10 times, 11 times the issuance of tickets there. Also, there’s no openness with regard to deterrent. You basically can define these areas, and then you’re going to use, essentially, hidden means through pickup trucks and minivans etc. to deploy this hidden photo radar. So there’s no deterrent factor.
Really, I think you’re not being honest and upfront with the Ontario public. This is not an open and honest debate because you’ve not introduced it as what it really is, which is the reintroduction of photo radar. I thought this was a pillar of the Liberal Party—one of their guiding pillars with regard to policy, in fact—that we were going to have open and transparent government. I don’t consider this to be open and transparent government.
I’ve provided a summary sheet of some of my thoughts on this and a few references. This only just touches the surface of this subject. As I say, at the minute, this bill absolutely does not meet the test of open and honest government, and it does not meet the test of rigour and purpose. There’s supposed to be a purpose of safety with this; I absolutely dispute that.
There’s even reference to the CAA. I did actually contact the CAA directly about this. Now, they are not always necessarily the strong advocates for motorists’ views, but they are very safety-focused. Even with their safety vision on this, they call into question the aspect of community safety zones. It’s not adequately defined. There’s a lot open to interpretation.
There is a lot of opportunity for abuse in this system, especially in implementation. It will come in—it’s a wedge policy. It will be brought in under this so-called banner of school safety, and in actual fact you’re opening up the door for photo radar in the long term. I wish you would be honest with the public and let the—57% of Torontonians disapprove of this. From a democratic test, this is not something that Ontarians generally support. I’m sure you’ve heard some voices of support today, but I would suggest that’s not representative of the Ontario public.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We shall start with the official opposition. Mr. Harris.
Mr. Michael Harris: Obviously, we talked to some other presenters today, and they had mentioned how distracted driving, driving while under impairment, both alcohol and—of course, now we’re going to see the legalization of marijuana and the issues that come with that, major impacts to road safety. In looking at other jurisdictions around the world, how have they been able to combat some of those driving behaviours such as distracted driving, driving while impaired, and speeding? What are some better ways to address these areas of concern, in your opinion?
Mr. Peter Wood: Well, you may have gathered I’m from Europe. Originally I was from the UK. I have driven throughout Europe. I think Germany has quite a good model in terms of their education program and their road awareness program. The roads do need to be respected; the motorist and the pedestrian and the cyclist need to respect the road and need to have an understanding and work in co-operation to result in a safe outcome.
In terms of distracted driving, if you get a situation where you’re reducing the speed limits, which we’ve seen happen, especially in some of the 905 areas—we’ve seen these reductions in speed limits. You end up coming into an area, and there’s not necessarily a lot of residential there at the start of that change in speed limit, but there is that speed limit change to a significantly lower than reasonable setting.
We know what happens on the highway. There have been studies about the number of vehicles that do not adhere to the 100-kilometre-an-hour speed limit—well documented, well understood. Are these people unreasonable? I would argue not. There is a safe-and-prudent rule. Distracted driving while speeding is a contributory factor. If you create a situation where driving is not your prime focus and you make it a very, very boring task, then you are more likely to lend opportunity for this sort of situation to occur.
When it comes to other jurisdictions, education and awareness is a significant factor in improving road safety. The standard of driving in Europe is generally a lot better, because there is more of a focus on it as an activity, as opposed to a secondary activity. I think you’ll find that there’s probably less distracted driving over there than there is over here.
Mr. Michael Harris: Thank you very much for your time.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Mr. Gates?
Mr. Wayne Gates: I see you’ve done a lot of research on this, so I’m going to ask you a question, because I don’t know. Are there other countries around the world—because you’ve used Germany as an example—that use cameras in school safety zones?
Mr. Peter Wood: I’m sure there are. I know that in the UK it started off as a safety measure, but now—as I say, it’s a wedge policy. It starts off as a school safety zone to introduce the concept, and then after that they just run away with it, as we can see in the UK. You can drive over in the UK and they have these managed motorway systems where they’ve got photo radar set up every few kilometres. It’s extremely unreasonable there. The increase in tickets when that was first brought in was huge. It’s not a safety aspect. There is a political motivation with this; let’s put it that way.
Mr. Wayne Gates: So it would be similar to photo radar on the 407?
Mr. Peter Wood: Yes, exactly. That’s the net result of it. You’re basically opening the door with this. We’ve got some of the safest roads in North America.
Mr. Wayne Gates: We do, but I’ve heard some presentations from principals and teachers today that would break your heart.
I guess the only other question I have for you, so I’m clear on where you’re at—you believe it’s a cash grab. Is that where you’re at?
Mr. Peter Wood: I believe it’s a cash grab, and also I don’t believe it’s an effective measure to improve safety. I understand that there have been emotional presentations, but in terms of looking at the facts, these speed limits would—there are other factors that are at play, and if you were going to impose a photo radar system here, you would certainly put a lot more rigour around the legislation and the associated regulations. There should be some limits put on this.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Okay. The only other thing I’ll ask is—so I’m clear; so I know where we’re at here: Cameras in school safety zones, in your opinion, wouldn’t save lives.
Mr. Peter Wood: In school safety zones, that’s more of a debate. As I say, in terms of the legislation that’s presented, it’s presented under the heading of a school safety zone. So if it was limited to school safety zones, you’re presenting what the bill is supposed to be about.
There is probably quite a lot of support for putting it in school safety zones, but to extend it to community safety zones where there is no proper definition around it and where we know that there can be clear abuse of it—the idea of putting it into expressways, the likes of, for example, the Don Valley or the Gardiner, would be when it starts to—especially when it’s coupled with a reduction in speed limits, because that’s typically what happens. This policy doesn’t work unless it’s—
Mr. Wayne Gates: I appreciate what you’re saying, because there certainly has been a lot of abuse on the 407. I agree with you on that one.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We’ll move to the government. Mr. Baker.
Mr. Yvan Baker: Thanks very much for coming in to speak to us today. I just wanted to share a few thoughts with you, based on what you had shared just now, the feedback you had shared. Statistics show that speed is still a major issue for concern. It’s still a danger on our local roads. About three out of every four speed-related collisions occur on municipal roads.
This bill is premised on the fact that these measures are designed to reduce injuries, to reduce fatalities. A 2010 review of 35 studies found that fatalities and serious injuries were reduced by up to 44% after the implementation of automated speed enforcement. We’ve had a number of folks come and speak to us today who have spoken to the fact that automated speed enforcement does make a difference. City councillors have come and spoken to us. Even one councillor who called in over the phone talked about how, in many cases, even when automated speed enforcement isn’t there but people think it’s there, it slows them down. There’s no question that automated speed enforcement makes a difference and it does act as a deterrent. I think you said it didn’t act as a deterrent, but the evidence that we’ve seen and certainly the testimony of the councillors who’ve spoken to us suggest otherwise.
Municipalities are a mature level of government. They have authority currently over speed limits in their communities. From my vantage point, it makes a lot of sense to give them the authority to determine what zones are community safety zones, whether they be schools or whether they be somewhere else. I know that in my community I have an area around a building that isn’t formally considered a school, but there are children with special needs in that area. I would expect that a municipality would consider that as a high priority for a community safety zone, as an example. So limiting it only to school zones I don’t think recognizes the fact that there are many areas where a lot of people are vulnerable—pedestrians are vulnerable to high-speed drivers.
You talked in your submission about the fact that this is not about safety, and I think I’ve presented the data that speaks to that, as to why this is about safety and why speed is a determining factor in causing fatalities and is more likely to cause fatalities.
You talked about Edmonton’s roads not being safer than Ontario’s in your submission, even though they have photo radar. I can only imagine how much less safe their roads would be if they didn’t have photo radar or automated speed enforcement. I know that in your submission you talk about the fact that we have some of the safest roads in North America. I think we pride ourselves on that. You said that our fatality rate of 0.54 per 10,000 was the second lowest ever recorded in Ontario. That’s great, but that 0.54 is someone’s son, daughter, grandmother, uncle, friend, whatever the case may be. Really, what this bill is about is making sure that we address that.
I guess my question is: Do you not believe that municipalities should have the right to determine what the speed limits are in their communities?
Mr. Peter Wood: Not without condition, no, because as you know, it’s an emotive thing. You’ve mentioned a statistic there about the low percentage. There’s not analysis done as to what the cause of that accident was. We’ve got total statistics here, and in terms of actual causes of accidents versus the contributory factor, to what extent was speed a contributory factor—if you’ve got unreasonably low speed limits, you know by pure statistics that the number of people exceeding the speed limit will be significant.
If the fact that somebody above the speed limit was recorded and noted as being a cause or a contributory cause of an accident when you’ve got 80% and 90% of those incidents where that occurs, it’s probably quite easy to come up with some statistics to support your case. Now, where’s the rigour to say that that was actually instrumental in that accident?
Mr. Yvan Baker: There are a tremendous amount of folks who have spoken to us and evidence that suggests that that’s the case.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Mr. Wood, we thank you very much for coming before committee this afternoon. We appreciate it.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next, we have on the agenda Mr. Chris Klimek with nophotoradar.ca. We welcome you, sir. You have up to six minutes for your presentation, followed by three minutes of questioning.
Mr. Chris Klimek: I have a request to Michael. Michael, can you give me 30 seconds of your three minutes? I’m going to need any extra seconds I can get.
I hope you all can see this. Thank you so much.
Hello, and thank you for allowing me to speak here today. Right off the bat, let’s be honest. Bill 65 is not about school zones. If Bill 65 was about school zones, it would not include the very loosely defined “community safety” zones. For anybody with a bit of common sense, it’s quite obvious that this is an attempt to install photo radar everywhere in our towns. I don’t think there is any dispute about that.
I am deeply concerned that many of you are not driven by data and facts. I’m afraid you’re driven by hatred toward drivers. While I could understand the hatred toward someone doing 80 kilometres an hour in a residential subdivision, this is not the kind of hatred we are talking about.
I am sure many of you know Edmonton, the photo radar capital of Canada. This is the hatred I am talking about. The numbers speak for themselves. Do we really want to punish all those drivers doing six or 10 kilometres over the speed limit? Clearly, Edmonton does, and if we approve Bill 65, we will as well. Is that really what we want in Ontario? Do you think there is a single police officer in our entire province who would issue one single ticket for six or 10 over the limit? I don’t think so.
There is a reason why police officers in our province do not stop anybody for six, 10, 15 or even 20 over the limit. They are not stopping us because they know our speed limits are very low, and that by exceeding them, we’re not doing anything unsafe.
Let me give you an example. Our provincial highways are designed for 120 kilometres an hour but are posted at 100 kilometres an hour. So driving at the speed envisioned by the engineers is illegal in Ontario and is considered a 20-kilometre-over infraction. Now imagine deploying photo radar on our highways and catching hundreds of thousands of drivers for doing safe speeds of 105, 110, or 120 kilometres an hour. That is why we have human police officers who use discretion and tolerance. But by voting for Bill 65, you choose to replace these police officers with a machine. As we all know, a machine doesn’t ask any questions. It doesn’t use tolerance and it doesn’t use discretion. It just sits there and collects revenue all day.
If you trust police officers, then you will be interested in hearing these two stories.
Here is an example of the widest school zone I have ever seen. It’s in my town of Oshawa, of course posted at 40 kilometres an hour. It has two lanes, but it’s almost wide enough for four. Because of that fact, drivers drive about 65 to 70 kilometres an hour. I spoke to one police officer who was working in the area, and he told me he would not stop anybody below 65 kilometres an hour. That’s because he knows the characteristics of this road. It’s wide enough where it’s very safe to go 60 or 65 kilometres an hour, even though the speed limit is 40. That’s from the police officer.
A few months later, I spoke to another police officer in one 50-kilometre zone in Oshawa, a kind of rural 50-kilometre zone. There was a speed trap set up there a few days earlier. This officer told me he wouldn’t catch anybody below 80 kilometres an hour. He is a division safety coordinator. Those people do not get hired for no reason.
I think some of you might agree with me—some of you—and these two officers that our speed limits are very, very low. This makes it extremely hard for drivers to comply. Our speed limits are posted significantly below the 85th-percentile speeds, which should be the basis of setting speed limits, according to all of the world’s engineers, including Canadian engineers. I think that deep in your heart, you might agree with me that you have driven six or 10 or 15 over the limit; you have. But Bill 65 is about strict, automated enforcement of these low speed limits.
Our roads are extremely safe, as you know. Our regional police officers—as long as the OPP are striking the right balance in terms of speed enforcement, this system creates some of the safest roads in the world, so why would you want to destroy it? If you want lower speeds in the school zones, and you are truly honest about it, you will consider some of these things:
—Scrap the idea of photo radar, and mandate random police patrols in school zones only when children are present: in the morning, in the afternoon and at lunch. Police officers are the only ones who can stop and apprehend dangerous drivers.
—Scrap the idea of photo radar and, instead, install large flashing signs when the children are present. These signs could also display the speed, to be even more effective.
—Amend the bill to allow only clear and visible photo radar—how about this one?—not hidden units, which are designed to collect revenue all day. This will save lives, if you want photo radar.
—Remove community safety zones from the equation, because they are the gateway to photo radar on every single road in our towns. Replace them with parks and playgrounds, if such a park is, for example, 20 metres away from the road.
Otherwise, we are going to become another Edmonton, which issues a staggering 11 times more tickets to an average driver—that is 11 times—with no clear safety benefits. These numbers prove it: no clear safety benefits. The only benefits are in terms of profits.
But why, one could ask, is Edmonton issuing half a million tickets per year if photo radar supposedly works and slows people down? Why are we having half a million tickets? Because it doesn’t work. That’s the simple answer. If it did, shouldn’t the number of tickets be very low, or zero?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Wrap up, please, Mr. Klimek.
Mr. Chris Klimek: Sure. One more minute, 30 seconds.
That’s because photo radar is a scam. The way it is often implemented, it is hidden in passenger vans and trucks. If the speed limit is low, which is to say too uncomfortable for most of the drivers, they will simply get caught, and revenue will be generated.
I’m asking you not to do it, or if you really need to do it, please install clearly visible photo radar. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you, Mr. Klimek. We’ll start with the NDP. Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Thank you very much, sir. I appreciate your presentation. Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Sorry. That was—
Mr. Wayne Gates: Yes, that’s fine. I listened. I’ve got it all here.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Okay, very good. Thank you very much.
Mr. Granville Anderson: Thank you for being here. Do you think a reduction in speed limits saves lives? Yes or no.
Mr. Chris Klimek: Speed limits should be set using scientific criteria, first of all. Once you allow engineers to set speed limits, you can enforce the speed limits—absolutely. The problem is, most of our speed limits, as discussed with those two police officers, are set too low. Most of the engineers will also tell you that they have to lower speed limits because of political pressures. What happens is, when the speed limits are set too low, drivers exceed the speed limits. When drivers exceed speed limits, complaints are flowing in to the local councillors and other representatives. So then there is talk of photo radar, of strict enforcement.
There are two ways to enforce speed limits with photo radar. One is using hidden passenger vans and trucks, like this one. Does anybody here not agree that this is deceitful? Do you think this is a fair way to approach enforcement of speed limits, hidden behind a bush? This white pickup there doesn’t know that there is photo enforcement up the road. That’s a ticket, guaranteed, if the speed limit is posted relatively low.
I am sure many of you have driven—
Ms. Daiene Vernile: If you’re following the law—
Mr. Chris Klimek: Right. That is why I spoke to two police officers. That’s a very good point.
Mr. Granville Anderson: The police officers you alluded to, they are supposed to enforce the law. They’re not judges.
Mr. Chris Klimek: Right.
Mr. Granville Anderson: So those police officers, they’re not doing their job, and if you are subscribing to that kind of behaviour, then something is wrong with our society.
I’m going to leave it at that, because it’s pointless.
Mr. Chris Klimek: Sure.
Mr. Granville Anderson: Thank you for your presentation.
Mr. Chris Klimek: So this is the proof for you right here, that—
Mr. Chris Klimek: No, this is from the ministry.
Mr. Granville Anderson: Maybe on that side you’ll find support for that, but for me, I’m done.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Okay, thank you very much. We’ll move to the official opposition. Mr. Harris.
Mr. Michael Harris: Good afternoon. Why do you feel it’s important to clearly define what a community safety zone is?
Mr. Chris Klimek: Well, again, if you allow community safety zones, then we basically allow photo radar everywhere. So at least let’s be honest about it. This is the return of photo radar everywhere, okay? If you want photo radar everywhere, then let’s allow the engineers to set speed limits.
This is a prime example, ladies and gentlemen. I would like you to take one last look at this. This is a letter from your ministry, from the Liberal Minister of Transportation, that says—I know this bill is not about the 400-series highways, but this is just one of the proofs. Our highways are designed for 120 km/hour, yet the speed limit is 100. Don’t you think this is a clear violation? The NDP members here would probably like to have photo radar on the highways. Why would somebody get a ticket—
Ms. Daiene Vernile: That’s not from the minister. That’s from MTO. It’s not from us.
Mr. Chris Klimek: Right, the Ministry of Transportation.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Order, please. It was Mr. Harris’s question.
Mr. Chris Klimek: Right. If you agree to set speed limits correctly—for example, 120 kilometres to 130 kilometres an hour on highways, yes, you can have photo radar because nobody will be exceeding them. Photo radar is only a problem when you set speed limits incorrectly, and then you hide passenger vans and trucks behind bushes. That is the real problem.
I really urge you, ladies and gentlemen, if you do want to have photo radar, do it this way. This way, nobody will exceed the speed limits; I can guarantee you that. Nobody will receive a single ticket because nobody will miss this yellow sign. No child will be dead. Isn’t this what we’re all after here? If there is even $1,000 of profit in the first year of operation of this program, that means we’re not doing this right. That means we are collecting cash. Are we about collecting cash here, or saving children? This unit is clearly visible to this driver. This driver does not want to receive a ticket.
If you want photo radar, fine. But please do it this way. I’m urging you to do it this way.
Mr. Michael Harris: How much time do I have?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): You’ve got another minute, Mr. Harris.
Mr. Michael Harris: Do you have any other closing comments, perhaps?
Mr. Chris Klimek: Yes. Ontario has the safest roads in Canada and, actually, in North America. Let’s not destroy this. Let’s not destroy the system.
Edmonton issues 11 times—just put this into perspective. Has anybody here received a speeding ticket in the last two years? Nobody? Three years? Exactly. Let’s assume one: Mr. Michael Harris. You’ve received one, for example.
Mr. Michael Harris: Oh, come on.
Mr. Chris Klimek: Funny joke, here, but multiply this by 11 times. This is a staggering number. We’re talking about half a million tickets, compared to 50,000 tickets in Durham region, or 43,000 in Ottawa—roughly the same size. This should be an eye-opener, ladies and gentlemen: 11 times more tickets and no safety benefits. Safety has been shown on the last slide.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you, Mr. Klimek, for your insight this afternoon; it’s much appreciated.
Mr. Ross Turek
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next on the agenda, we have with us Mr. Ross Turek. We welcome you, sir. You have up to six minutes for your presentation, followed by three minutes of questioning from each of the parties.
Mr. Ross Turek: Thank you. My name is Ross Turek. I’m a professional engineer, living in the Whitby-Oshawa area for 30 years. I’m also an automotive engineer and a volunteer member of the National Motorists Association for 30 years. And I’m a former auxiliary policeman with the OPP; I spent six years.
Twenty-three years ago, when Jim Kenzie had more hair, we sat down with the OPP and we talked about photo radar. I’ve listed at the bottom there. The numbers didn’t make sense then; they don’t make sense now.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: That’s from 1993, though.
Mr. Ross Turek: Yes.
Mr. Ross Turek: Yes, but we went to the meeting with the OPP and—
Ms. Daiene Vernile: From 1993.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Ms. Vernile, Mr. Turek has the floor. Thank you.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: Do you have anything that’s current?
Mr. Ross Turek: Oh, absolutely. We’ve got a handout.
So here we are, fast-forward—if we take the Edmonton average of $49 per person and multiply it by 51 cities in Ontario—forget about towns for now—there’s an opportunity to make $452 million through photo radar. Twenty-two years ago, they were shooting for $750 million, which is more than slot machines.
Here’s how you get your money: Here’s someone driving 67 kilometres an hour in a 50, he’s now got a $149 ticket. Some people get two of these in one day.
There are alternatives. Alternative number one: We had a 40-kilometre-an-hour speed on a five-lane road. We had it. It was ridiculous. I wrote a letter seven and a half years ago. I said, “Why don’t we do what Pickering does and have flashing amber lights when kids are walking to school?” The town of Whitby agreed. They installed a flashing yellow light. It has been in place for over five years. Drivers respect it because it’s reasonable.
Unfortunately, Oshawa didn’t get the memo and here we have a 40-kilometre-an-hour school zone with a fence as far as the eye can see. So 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days you have to assume there are kids there. Yet the road was designed for 50 kilometres an hour, probably even 60. It’s a three-lane road. We’re overdesigning our roads.
Alternative number two: We’ve all driven by these display boards that flash your speed. You all slow down when you see it, right? Because it flashes. People can inadvertently speed, and this will remind them.
A third alternative I didn’t put up here, as the other speakers have said, is more police presence.
Also, from 23 years ago when we met with the OPP, they gave us these traffic engineering studies. These are how we’ve set speed limits for 50 years. We do a survey on a good sunny day with good traffic, and we respect that 85% of people are not dangerous; they’re friends of ours, they’re good drivers. We focus on the top 15%. When I was in the OPP auxiliary, that’s what we did. We don’t go after the bottom 5% or 10%. That’s what Edmonton does even though, as Chris and the other speaker, Peter, pointed out, there are 11 times more tickets over a five-year period—not one year, a five-year period—and there has been no significant improvement in collisions.
Now let’s look at Canada overall. There is more to safe driving than speed. There is Germany ahead of us with no speed limit on the Autobahn. Now we look at Ontario. Why is Ontario so good? Look at it. It’s almost half of Alberta, and they’ve had 15 years of photo radar. Why is Ontario so good? In fact, we’re number one in North America for multiple years in a row. So we’re doing something right. The house is not on fire.
If you prioritize the reasons we have accidents—this table has been in use for 30 years, okay? This is not just a one-shot table. We need cameras for following too close, we need cameras for failing to yield right of way and we need cameras for distracted driving and texting.
In Michigan: Michigan police are allowed to set speed limits—
Mr. Ross Turek: No, they’ve raised 500. They have raised 500 speed limits. What they do is they have traffic surveys, okay? They have a definition of an illegal speed limit. We don’t have that in Ontario because we use political pressure to change speed limits. In this example, by the Michigan State Police, they raised the speed limit, and look at the histogram: Nothing changes. Nothing changes. That’s why they’ve raised 500 of them, so that they don’t have to waste time on the safe drivers that are our friends and neighbours.
This only started in about 2003 when the federal government in the States realized that there’s a new factor in setting speed limits prior to the 85th percentile: It’s called political pressure. This is now gaining steam where we’re now saying, “We know more than the traffic engineers.” We’ll leave it at that. Questions?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We shall start with the government. Ms. Vernile.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: Thank you, Mr. Turek. I’m going to use one of your quotes. You said that the house is not on fire. We know that in 2014, 34,062 Ontarians were injured in collisions on our roads, and 481 were killed. You’ve mentioned some of your stats; I’ve got over 50 studies done around the globe that challenge you.
The research shows that speed plays a very significant role in hurting pedestrians. In fact, 90% have a chance of survival when struck by a travelling car at 30 kilometres per hour, but it’s less than a 50% chance of survival if the impact is 45 kilometres per hour or higher.
When we look at other jurisdictions—Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta, and around the world: New Zealand, the US, Hungary, England and Germany—they’re all using automated speed enforcement, and they’re seeing very good results. In fact, in New Zealand they’ve seen a reduction of 42% in fatalities since they embraced this technology.
So while you are arguing from a certain point of view, we are going according to international evidence. The decisions that are being made with Bill 65 are evidence-based. I don’t have a question for you; I just want to leave you with that.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We’ll move to the official opposition. Mr. Harris.
Mr. Michael Harris: We talk a lot about how the name of the bill is the Safer Schools Act, yet it encapsulates and allows for photo radar in community safety zones. We’ve already seen and heard some municipal councillors across the province wanting to extend it to expressways and parkways. I just wanted to get your thoughts on the specific addition of community safety zones in this particular bill.
Mr. Ross Turek: We’re letting the genie out of the bottle, okay? There’s no stopping it. Once you take it out, your government will be overthrown, like it was 23 years ago, when people started realizing how many tickets you’re going to get.
Again, let’s just go by the data. Where are the benefits from Edmonton? Why isn’t Edmonton so good? I’d like to believe that it works, but the data says the opposite. I’m an engineer; I’m trained to look at data.
Mr. Michael Harris: Right. Does a photo radar ticket in the mail change actual behaviour?
Mr. Ross Turek: Absolutely not. You get a ticket two weeks later. Some people get two tickets two weeks later. The bad guy has gone through the school zone at whatever speed. Extra police presence does more than just photo radar.
Mr. Michael Harris: Do you believe, with the installation of photo radar, that we may see less police enforcement in our school zones?
Mr. Ross Turek: Yes, I could believe that. I could believe that cops are going to say, “Well, it’s not my job. It’s now Xerox.” Xerox is going to do all this, and they’re going to take 30%.
Mr. Michael Harris: What would the threshold be, or what should be set, with photo radar by municipalities? From your data, does it vary amongst municipalities across Canada?
Mr. Ross Turek: It all goes back to the traffic engineering survey. As politicians, you don’t want to get involved in this. Let the voters do the talking, okay? You don’t want to say that 90% of the voters are wrong. Like 100 kilometres on the 401: 90% of us are wrong. This is a democratic country. Something is wrong here.
Mr. Michael Harris: Is there anything else you’d like to add? That’s it for me.
Mr. Ross Turek: Again, as an OPP auxiliary, I have nothing but respect for the police. They use discretion.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We shall move to Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Thanks very much, Ross. I’ve got your presentation. I went through it as quickly as I could. I’ll continue to do that. Thank you very much for coming.
Mr. Ross Turek: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We appreciate your comments this afternoon.
Mr. Jeff Leiper Ms. Catherine McKenney
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next we have with us Mr. Jeff Leiper, a city councillor, ward 15, Kitchissippi, city of Ottawa. I believe we also have Catherine McKenney, city councillor, ward 14, Somerset, city of Ottawa. We welcome both of you to committee this afternoon. You have up to six minutes for your presentation, followed by three minutes of questioning. Welcome. The floor is yours.
Mr. Jeff Leiper: Thank you very much, Chair, and thank you, members. My name is Jeff Leiper. I’m the city councillor for ward 15, Kitchissippi ward, in Ottawa. I’m joined by my colleague Catherine McKenney, who is the councillor for ward 14, Somerset, also in Ottawa. Our wards are adjoining. We represent the downtown core: the near south of the downtown and the near west of the downtown.
I am here to speak today on behalf of the many community activists in Kitchissippi who are seeking safer streets and a more sustainable community.
We are very pleased to have had the leadership of our MPP, Minister Naqvi, to champion Bill 65, and wholeheartedly support it. Residents like Laura Griggs, who represents the Friends of Broadview; Donna Chiarelli from Wellington Village Safe Streets; Dickson Davidson with the Hintonburg Community Association; and Luanne Calcutt with the Civic Hospital Neighbourhood Association have been working closely with my office in an attempt to slow down traffic in our intensifying neighbourhoods. In fact, part of my presentation today is driven by the recent exercise where the Hintonburg Community Association had to put in around 1,700 hours of volunteer time to go through the petition process to bring down the speed limit in Hintonburg to 40 kilometres an hour.
The province’s policies on intensification in urban neighbourhoods have led to a significant increase in traffic in Kitchissippi ward. Infill is transforming our neighbourhoods. There are a multitude of newly approved mid- and high-rise apartment and condo buildings in our ward. The arterial roads that serve Kitchissippi wards are becoming increasingly congested, with the result that drivers trying to navigate our streets are seeking shortcuts. Driver behaviour is increasingly impatient, and the walkability of our streets is suffering.
I know that the members of this committee are aware of the unequivocal advantages of slowing cars down. Collisions with pedestrians are nearly always fatal or catastrophic at 60 kilometres an hour. People survive and are less injured at 30 kilometres an hour. The severity of injuries at increasing speeds is a hockey-stick curve.
Councillor McKenney, I know, is going to further address the responsibility we have as municipal officials to design for collisions so that they aren’t catastrophic when they do happen. But more than the hard numbers show with respect to pedestrians, cyclists, cars and speed, I want to ask the committee to keep in mind as they deliberate on this bill the impact of perceptions of speed and the near misses that are reported to my office every week in our ward.
Key to maintaining denser urban centres as desirable places will be to provide people with alternatives to private vehicle travel. In our ward, that means cycling and walking. But when people don’t feel safe, they drive. More cars perpetuate a negative cycle.
We know that we need to design for safe streets, but in pre-war communities like ours, the cost is prohibitive in the short- and mid-term. In the meantime, we need to effect a change in driver behaviour to slow people down. Automated enforcement tools and enforcement are the least costly, most effective way we can do that.
If passed, this bill would help the city cost-effectively lower speed limits where those make sense in our community and safety zones, but that is only going to be effective insofar as people obey the limits. That change on streets that are not designed for 30 kilometres an hour is only going to occur through enforcement. The two elements of this bill go hand in hand.
I’ll turn it over to my colleague Councillor McKenney.
Ms. Catherine McKenney: Thank you for having us here today.
Between 2010 and 2014, 148 people died on Ottawa streets: 85 of them were in cars; 12 on motorcycles; 36 on foot; and 15 on bikes. If anything other than road deaths were responsible for these numbers, we would have demanded change years ago.
I’m very proud of the fact that 87% of the trips are made on foot, by bike or by transit in the ward that I represent in downtown Ottawa every day. I often wonder what it would look like if one morning, all of these walkers, cyclists and transit users decided to drive instead. The downtown would be in gridlock and no one would be able to move about—except those of us who already live downtown.
We need residents to use alternative and active means of transportation. It is essential to the health and functioning of our entire city. When we drive, walk or cycle, we are all at risk of making mistakes. We are all human, and humans make mistakes, but mistakes should not result in catastrophic injury or death to us or to others. We must stop normalizing deaths on our streets. Instead, we must design our streets to allow for human error. Yes, some cyclists and pedestrians don’t follow the rules of the road, and yes, some drivers are careless, but the vast majority are responsible.
Examples from countries leading in safer street designs, countries that consider these injuries and deaths fully preventable, can no longer be ignored. At a minimum, whenever someone dies or is seriously injured on our streets, we must investigate and make immediate changes to prevent further deaths or serious injuries. The most effective change that we could make is lowering the speed on our roadways.
This is where we all come in. As elected representatives, we have an ethical responsibility to provide for the safety and well-being of all residents and to ensure that everyone has safe transit, whether they walk, cycle or drive.
I, along with my colleague and other colleagues and community members from the city we represent, are strong proponents of a Vision Zero policy. Vision Zero, as many of you know, is a worldwide movement that considers all traffic fatalities and serious injuries to be preventable. The only acceptable number of traffic deaths and serious injuries is zero. As part of a Vision Zero policy, cities can prioritize the safety of pedestrians and cyclists when we reconstruct our streets and build new ones. We can make side guards on heavy municipal trucks mandatory. We can revamp and properly fund our traffic-calming and pedestrian and cyclist safety programs, and we can and must ensure that the speeds on our streets are reduced. This is why we travelled here today: to provide our strong support to Bill 65, the Safer School Zones Act, that would give municipalities the tools that we need to improve safety by helping to lower speed limits in community areas, school zones, and on our residential streets.
In the meantime, we can slow down and humanize our streets. Let’s be sure to give cyclists the safe space that they need when we pass them, give pedestrians the time they need to navigate our city streets, and remember that we all have someone who wants us to make it home at the end of the day. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, I appreciate that. We shall start with the Progressive Conservatives. Mrs. Munro.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Yes, thank you very much, and thanks to both of you for coming here.
There are a couple of questions that I have that—I’m hoping you have a response, but they come from earlier presentations. Obviously there are some themes that keep coming up. The first one was the question of the criteria of speed. By that I am referring to changes in the speed limits. You can go down the same road and there can be four, five, seven different changes in the speed limit. I’m wondering if you had any sense of the criteria. Would there be common criteria, why you’re going a particular speed, or rather why a municipality allows for that particular speed? Is there any agreement amongst municipalities about speed limits?
Ms. Catherine McKenney: We have a default speed limit of 50 on our residential streets, especially in the denser parts of the city, which we represent. A lot of it does come down to street design. There’s no doubt, we need to redesign our streets or design our new streets so that we are calming traffic, so that drivers are not compelled to drive over 30 kilometres an hour. We know how to do that, and we need to do that. In the meantime, we have temporary traffic-calming measures that we can use that will help to calm streets.
Our constituents are talking to us and asking us for change. They are looking for that change especially on residential streets, especially where kids are there. So many people tell me that they would allow their children who are eight, nine, 10 or 11 to walk to school. We don’t need to bus all the children in the downtown. They could walk. But there are intersections that they can’t cross. There are streets that they can’t navigate because, as kids, they don’t have the ability to determine how fast traffic is moving.
There are very specific areas in the city where we need traffic to go at a slower rate—whether it’s for pedestrians or for cyclists—than what is happening on the street.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Thank you for that, because I think it’s important to see the development of that rationalization going into street design.
Ms. Catherine McKenney: Absolutely.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Did you have something to add to that?
Mr. Jeff Leiper: Just very briefly, to add on to Councillor McKenney’s comments. I think that implicit in your question is whether or not there is a disadvantage to having inconsistent speed limits on a street. I think what Councillor McKenney and I would probably seek is to actually move toward consistency, with a lower speed limit overall in some of the urban neighbourhoods where it’s most appropriate, but really bringing the speed limit down by a significant amount in front of our schools particularly and in our community safety areas. If we had our druthers, the consistency would come between a 40-kilometre-per-hour street as a default speed limit in much of our residential areas, with 30 in some of the areas that really need it. I don’t think that inconsistency is necessarily going to be a disadvantage, as opposed to areas where you might have 60, 50, 40 and 30.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Thank you, and welcome. Somebody new; somebody from Ottawa. We’ve had people from Ottawa all day. You guys are celebrating after the Senators. You guys haven’t gone back to Ottawa yet.
In Ottawa, obviously, from what I’m getting from your colleagues, there’s a real problem in Ottawa around speeding—and the number of people that you’ve said have been killed on your roads. When you see that, how do you feel? You came all the way down here to Toronto to make sure your voice is heard. You’ve had a number of people, elected reps, because your senior friends, your colleagues and your neighbours are getting either killed or injured on your roads.
Do you believe—because we’ve had interesting presentations today, I’ll just say that—that putting cameras in school zones and community zones would help the city of Ottawa save lives?
Mr. Jeff Leiper: I’ll start out by answering the first question, which is how it makes me feel when I see the perception—the real feeling, sorry—of how people get around in our streets. People are afraid to walk on our streets. And we are intensifying. We’ve run out of room, now, for cars, and if you don’t feel safe walking, how are you going to get around these dense downtown cores and near neighbourhoods? Besides the tragedy of people’s lives being destroyed by being involved in motor vehicle collisions, it also makes me worry about the sustainability of amazing wards like Kitchissippi in Ottawa.
Do I believe that photo radar, automated enforcement tools and cameras will make a difference? Absolutely, I do. I think that’s why we’re here. When I take a look at the results in Edmonton—I know some of the presenters who I’ve heard already today have spoken about the number of tickets issued, and that is not the right metric to look at. The cameras are being instituted for a reason.
When I take a look at the results in Edmonton of putting photo radar in, these are the kinds of results I want for Ottawa: severe collision fatality and injury reduction of 32.1%; property damage collisions reduction of 28.7%; total collisions reduction of 27.7%—the numbers go on. Slowing people down, effecting the culture change that comes with automated enforcement, is going to help us feel safer, and it’s going to improve the quality of life for residents of Ottawa.
Ms. Catherine McKenney: I go back to the Vision Zero policy and the argument that we can’t prevent all deaths or injuries. I disagree with that; I think that we really can. We know how. We have an ethical obligation to do so. This is one tool in that tool box, but it’s a critical one. Setting lower speeds, lowering our speeds on our streets, is the most effective way of lowering catastrophic injury and death. We know what the numbers are. We know what happens when someone is hit at 50 or 60 kilometres an hour as opposed to 30.
I think the most compelling video I ever saw on the topic was from the city of Edmonton. They went around and they asked people, “How many deaths do you think are acceptable on your streets?” They gave numbers like, “Well, maybe two a year. Maybe 10 a year.” Then they asked, “Well, how many of those should be your family members?”, and people were stunned by that question, because none of us think it’s going to happen to us or our family, but it can, and it shouldn’t happen to anyone’s family. We have a responsibility because we know what to do to prevent it.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We appreciate it.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Done?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): A minute over, Mr. Gates. Thank you very much.
We’ll go to the government. Ms. Hoggarth.
Ms. Ann Hoggarth: Thank you very much for your presentation and for your advocacy, Ms. McKenney and Mr. Leiper.
Ms. McKenney, I’d just like you to pass on a hello if you see Paul Dewar. I was involved in the teachers’ federation with him, and he’s great.
Ms. Catherine McKenney: Oh, of course.
Ms. Ann Hoggarth: At Ottawa’s transportation committee back in May 2016, you both expressed strong support for camera technology to address speeding in school zones and residential neighbourhoods. Some believe that this technology should only be used in school zones, as we heard earlier, or not at all.
Why do you think photo technology also has a role to play in residential neighbourhoods that fall outside of school zones?
Mr. Jeff Leiper: Thank you for the question; it is an important one. First, if it has not already been said or if we have not implied it, I think some of those decisions should absolutely be left up to municipalities working with the particular characteristics of the people that we represent and where it does make most sense to use these technologies. I hope the bill that the government passes will have that flexibility.
It’s not just schools that have vulnerable populations and even not so vulnerable populations for walking to. In both Councillor McKenney’s and my ward, we rely, just in order to be a sustainable community, on people walking to the grocery store, to the library, to the pool, to their yoga class. Our communities don’t work if people don’t walk, if they don’t have a safe walk.
There are going to be areas where we have vulnerable populations using civic and school board and other institutions that absolutely deserve the same protection as schoolchildren. If we have, as a city, the ability to broadly define a community safety zone, that’s going to allow us, as municipal elected representatives, to develop the solutions that are going to work best for Ottawa.
Ms. Ann Hoggarth: Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you, Councillors, for coming before committee this weekend. We much appreciate it, Councillor Leiper and Councillor McKenney.
Friends and Families for Safe Streets
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next, from Friends and Families for Safe Streets, we have Mr. Yu Li, who is the spokesperson for the group. We welcome you, sir, to committee this afternoon. You have up to six minutes for your presentation, followed by three minutes of questioning from each of the parties. Welcome. The floor is yours.
Mr. Yu Li: Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): You’re welcome.
Mr. Yu Li: Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and honourable members. My name is Yu Li, and I am appearing as a volunteer spokesperson for Friends and Families for Safe Streets. We will also submit a brief in writing.
Our group, Friends and Families for Safe Streets, was formed to put a human face on the statistics we hear about traffic collisions. The cruel statistics include my friend Zhiyong Kang, who was killed by a drunk, speeding driver with a suspended licence in 2015.
Our members are survivors of traffic collisions and friends and families whose loved ones have been killed or severely injured by careless drivers and dangerous conditions on Toronto streets. We all paid a very terrible price to traffic violence, and we are working to end it in Toronto by changing laws, enforcement, street design, public attitudes and traffic culture to make our vibrant streets safer and more equitable for all road users, while supporting survivors and the bereaved.
You may have heard that in 2016 Toronto had the worst number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths in over a decade. Each one of these deaths was preventable—every single one. Through better street design, smart enforcement and public education about how to prevent collisions, we can end these deaths and serious injuries that have catastrophic effects on our lives, our families and our neighbourhoods.
Today we are here to talk about how speed kills and how lower speed limits and safety cameras can save lives. Bill 65 allows the use of safety cameras in community safety zones and school zones, and it allows our cities to establish areas where we can have speed limits lower than 50 kilometres per hour. Our group fully supports these measures. In fact, given the evidence about where people are killed on our city streets, I urge you to go further and allow cities to set lower default speed limits throughout and enforce them with safety cameras wherever people live.
Children, frail seniors, vulnerable persons who use mobility devices can be found on every street, not just any specific zone and not just near a school or a retirement home. Why not leave it up to the cities to set their own default speed limits on all but provincially controlled highways and allow the cities to impose the speed limits with safety cameras wherever we find vulnerable road users; that is to say, people travelling without the benefit of two tonnes of steel cage and airbags?
We all know that speed kills. The 2010 report of the deputy chief coroner of Ontario speaks volumes about it. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle travelling at 50 kilometres per hour is five times more likely to die than if they were hit at 30 kilometres per hour; 45% of people hit by a car at 50 kilometres per hour will die and another 50% will be injured. By contrast, 95% of people hit by a car at 30 kilometres per hour will live. So 30 kilometres per hour is the only speed limit that’s consistent with life—the vision that we don’t have anybody killed in traffic collisions.
You may have heard earlier today that safety cameras are a cash grab by governments. We strongly disagree with that argument. First, we think that people who endanger other people’s lives and break laws by speeding should pay the price. Second, evidence shows that the public is more amenable to safety cameras if they know that the revenues from speeding fines are earmarked for safety-oriented street redesign projects, such as narrowing lane widths to accommodate bike lanes and transit lanes, pedestrian islands and/or wider sidewalks. We ask that Bill 65 designate revenues for this purpose to ensure public support. Third, the real reason we want safety cameras is not for the revenue but to actually slow down cars.
There is evidence that cameras work in this way. For instance, when New York City installed new cameras in 2014, at first each location issued an average of 192 violations per day. A year later, that number had decreased to an average of 69 summonses per day, or a 60% drop. Think of all the lives saved in just one new camera location. That is not a cash grab.
I would like to end by reminding you of the six-year-old boy who was killed by a driver just across from his school in Scarborough on Friday. He was hit by a father picking up his own child. Please don’t tell me that is a normal part of life in our city.
We urge you to use Bill 65 to lower the permissible default speed limit to 30 kilometres per hour and remove all restrictions on safety cameras to address speeding and red light running. Let cities decide how many deaths are acceptable, and let them choose zero. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Mr. Li, for your presentation. We’ll start with Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Thank you, sir. How are you?
Mr. Yu Li: Good. Thank you.
Mr. Wayne Gates: The Scarborough six-year-old—picking up his kid. I want to start with that because that destroys two families.
Mr. Yu Li: Yes.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Not one, two, and then it destroys the school families, the teachers, the principal, all that stuff. You said something that I think all three parties should hear when you put it in perspective of what happened last week.
Mr. Yu Li: Yes.
Mr. Wayne Gates: If we put the cameras in our school zones and it saves lives—
Mr. Yu Li: I strongly believe so.
Mr. Wayne Gates: —do you think it’s a cash grab?
Mr. Yu Li: I don’t think that’s a cash grab. How much are you willing to pay for this six-year-old’s life? Please ask yourself: How much are you willing to pay for the six-year-old’s life?
Mr. Wayne Gates: I would even go a step further, and I’d ask my colleagues: What if it was one of our kids or one of our grandkids, and if we knew that if we did the right thing, if we put the cameras in the school zones, it would save somebody’s life and somebody’s family wouldn’t be destroyed? The other family that hit the kid, their family wouldn’t be destroyed. Why wouldn’t we do the right thing? It makes no sense that that is not happening in this bill. I don’t get it.
I just want to touch on the last thing, about saying a crash is not an accident. I really appreciate the fact that you talked about the labour movement, and that health and safety became a priority, and how, for injured workers who get injured on the job, those accidents are preventable, just like this is preventable.
Mr. Yu Li: Yes. I strongly believe that’s the case.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I really like number 3. I like the fact that you did highlight the importance of having a strong labour movement in the province of Ontario that will raise issues like workplace safety. Like that little boy who just wanted to go home and see his mom and dad, workers in our workplaces are the same thing. I really appreciate you taking the time to put number 3 down, so thank you.
Mr. Yu Li: Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We shall move to the government. Mr. Baker.
Mr. Yvan Baker: Mr. Li, thank you very much for being here, and for your advocacy and your passionate articulation of why this needs to be done, and how important it is that we save lives, especially children’s lives. Thank you.
I think what I wanted to do was just ask you a few questions, to further expand on what you’ve talked about.
Mr. Yu Li: Sure.
Mr. Yvan Baker: In the fall and early winter 2016, which was recently, we saw a significant spike in pedestrian fatalities from collisions with vehicles. This was obviously very upsetting to everyone, particularly to those families who were impacted.
While we know that there’s more work to be done, can you just talk about how you think the measures in Bill 65 would make our roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists?
Mr. Yu Li: Yes. First, by lowering the speed limit. I think that speed is the biggest factor in determining the outcome of a collision. By lowering the speed limit, you reduce the possibility of a collision, because people will have enough time to react and avoid it, and the outcome of the collision will be much different if it happens at a much lower speed.
Second, having the safety cameras installed will contribute to change people’s driving behaviour. I think that’s a powerful factor in changing people’s behaviour. New York City’s experience demonstrated that quite strongly.
Mr. Yvan Baker: One of the things that you’ve talked about a lot is speed limits. Under this bill, municipalities would have the authority to designate community safety zones and to basically do what you’re talking about. In fact, Mayor Tory sent the province a letter asking for these measures, and he indicated strong support, upon the announcement of this bill.
If this bill were passed by the Legislature, are there particular ways in which you would like to see it implemented here in Toronto? Are there particular locations, particular ways in which you’d like to see it implemented in Toronto?
Mr. Yu Li: The stance of our group is that if this bill is passed, Toronto should designate the entire city as a safety zone and set the default speed limit to 30 kilometres per hour. For specific roads, I think the city needs justification to raise it beyond that speed limit. We believe that 30 kilometres per hour is the only safe speed limit that can ensure we really reach the goal of Vision Zero.
Mr. Yvan Baker: Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We shall move to the official opposition. Ms. Munro.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Thank you very much for coming here today to give us your consideration on this.
Two ideas here—the first one is particularly with regard to children. I remember there was a fatality in Toronto a few years ago, and there was a really grassroots public reaction to the people swinging around corners too fast and things like that. Many of the speakers today have talked about calming methods in the communities. In the work you’ve done, and in the community you represent, do you think those efforts have reached a goal or have been successful? Or is it because the driver thinks it would never happen to him?
Mr. Yu Li: I think we are making progress, but unfortunately last year’s number shows that we haven’t done nearly enough. We still had a terrible year with regard to pedestrian and cyclist deaths.
I think there are a lot of ways—Bill 65 is one of the tools to work towards that, but there is a lot more to be done by changing street design. You just designate the speed limit to 30, but if it’s a wide, straight street, people may still just speed down it, regardless of the speed limit. So there are a lot of other things we have to do in conjunction with this to really calm the traffic and lower the cars’ speed.
I do think that we need a dramatic culture shift in people’s mentality—instead of “I need to get there fast, fast, fast,” to the point where we actually think, “We can slow down. Nothing is more important than safety and life.”
Mrs. Julia Munro: I would certainly agree. This morning, there was emphasis on train safety. I don’t know whether you happened to see it, but they provided people with the idea that how fast a train is coming is much faster than your perception of it. I found the commercial, if you want—public information—very interesting because of the fact that we don’t often think about that. But I know I’ve stood while somebody was racing to catch a train, and trains stop without the—the trains automatically stop at a certain point, so it’s terribly dangerous.
Do you think there’s enough public education? I think one winter, we had something like 12 pedestrian fatalities. When they did the study of the circumstances, there was fault at the feet of the pedestrians in terms of making decisions to dash across and things like that. I wonder if there isn’t room for more of that kind of public presence in advertising the pedestrian’s responsibility in something like this.
Mr. Yu Li: Well, I believe that every parent—I know I do; all the parents I know are educating their kids to stay out of a car’s way. I know that people make different judgments and sometimes they make the wrong judgment about speed, but I think the important thing is, if that car is travelling at 30 kilometres per hour, and if this person makes the wrong judgment and dashes out, under most circumstances there would be enough time for the driver and the person to react to avoid a collision, and even if a collision does happen, the result wouldn’t be catastrophic. That’s why we’re advocating for a 30-kilometre-per-hour default speed limit: to actually ensure that this catastrophic result does not happen. People make mistakes. Pedestrians do; drivers do, too. But if the car is travelling at a much lower speed, the outcome of that mistake will be maybe just a bump or a light injury, but not a catastrophic one.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Mr. Li, for coming before committee this afternoon. It’s much appreciated.
Mr. Yu Li: Okay, thank you.
Force Multiplier Solutions Canada Inc.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next on the agenda we have, from Force Multiplier Solutions Canada Inc., Mr. Jean Soulière, président. Bienvenue.
Mr. Jean Soulière: Bonjour tout le monde. Thank you for having me today.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): It’s a pleasure. You have up to six minutes, followed by three minutes of questioning.
Mr. Jean Soulière: Okay. Thank you for having me here today. I don’t represent a technology that is photo radar. However, our firm does have the priority of our children’s safety at heart as our number one priority.
We have been advocating for over two years the use of stop-arm enforcement cameras on school buses. It’s a very, very important issue, and I’m here today to hopefully plant a seed that when you are defining your zones and defining a school zone, you please not forget the zone in which our children are in the most danger, and that is the zone around the school bus when they get on and off it.
We did a pilot at the end of the 2015-16 school year in North Bay, Sudbury, Kitchener-Waterloo, Brantford and Mississauga. Instead of talking about those results, I thought I would show you some video, because video speaks louder than my words. There’s no music, so I’ll walk you through it.
Here, you’ll see a variation of offences. One thing you’ll notice is that some of it is far from accidental.
So now there’s one, two, three cars. Finally one stops. There was a child waiting to cross the street.
This is in Brantford, and you’ll see this is not a very busy street at all. In fact, it’s just two lanes in a regular neighbourhood—and there you go. We talk about speed and we talk about how speed kills, and we wonder what would happen if those kids moved out just a little bit sooner.
This is the city of Mississauga. Mayor Crombie has come out very strongly in support of our initiative because of videos like that taken in her district and her city.
We’ve had questions about why do people coming the other way have to stop? Well, this is a perfect example. The law says you have to stop five metres behind a stopped school bus. This car is about to scare a child crossing the street by slamming on their brakes right at the stop sign, and as the child looks back, wondering, you see on the other side of the street another vehicle just moseying down the road.
Our pilot data said that it was happening, on average, once per school bus per day. There are 18,000 school buses on the roads of Ontario. That’s almost 3.5 million times a year we’re putting our children at risk.
So really, today, I’m here to talk about the spirit of your bill. The spirit of your bill is to protect those in our communities who need the most protection. We talk about using technology to provide our children with the protection they deserve, so we’re really talking about the same thing.
A school bus is governed as an extension of the school, legally, today. In fact, it’s subject to all the same governance and laws and policies as a regular school is. So when you look at the framework that you’re going to draft your bill in, I would ask that you look at that zone, because that zone—kids get killed in it. There are examples in Ontario of many injuries and fatalities, and if you ask the consortiums, the school boards, the communities—everyone we’ve spoken to in the last two years has said, “I can’t believe we don’t have this already.” So hopefully your committee can have a positive impact on bringing this technology to the streets of Ontario. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Mr. Soulière. We’re going to start with the government and Mr. Anderson.
Mr. Granville Anderson: Thank you for your presentation, Mr. Soulière. I know you’re talking about school buses. This technology would be cameras on the buses?
Mr. Jean Soulière: Correct.
Mr. Granville Anderson: How about cameras on the streets, in the areas around—in school zones?
Mr. Jean Soulière: Our program is focused on a very specific school zone, which is the school bus itself. Our company is specialized in that. There are very specific evidence-continuity issues that we have to tackle, so we’re not proposing or we’re not entering in the photo radar market at all. We’re very focused on school buses.
Mr. Granville Anderson: Are there any jurisdictions where your technology is being used at the moment?
Mr. Jean Soulière: We’re a Canadian firm. We have bought the technology from an American firm. We know that there are many jurisdictions in the United States that use this type of technology very successfully in reducing—we have over 10 years of American data that we analyzed before bringing it over here—where there are significant reductions year over year. The first year, you measure the baseline, and then, after that, we see 25%-per-year reductions in violations. The fine is $490, and it’s a terrible fine to try and explain to your spouse when you go home.
There’s a lot of impact to this technology, and what we have to do and what we’ve been working at as a firm is finding a way to bring it that doesn’t have the cost burden on the taxpayer or on the school boards.
Mr. Granville Anderson: I have no further questions, unless my colleague does.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Ms. Vernile.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: The videotape was very dramatic. Can you tell me what street you were on in Waterloo region? Do you know?
Mr. Jean Soulière: I can, actually. There’s the pilot data, where you can go to fxscanada.com and you can download the entire pilot results. What that will give you is every school bus that participated and every stop where the violations occurred. It will also give you the time of day and all kinds of interesting data.
I’m glad you asked the question because it brings up a point which is about analytics. During our pilot in Waterloo, we found one stop that had 23 violations on it. That summer, the consortium moved that stop to a safer location.
This is not always about enforcement. It’s about measuring so that we can prove reduction and take proactive steps to make our children safer every day.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: How old is the videotape? When was it shot?
Mr. Jean Soulière: This video was shot between May and June 2016.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: I think we all want the same thing, and that is safer streets. So thank you for being here today.
Mr. Jean Soulière: Thank you so much.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We shall move over to the official opposition. Mr. Nicholls.
Mr. Rick Nicholls: Good afternoon, Mr. Soulière. It’s a pleasure to have you here today. I have two questions for you. I’ll begin with: Are there any specific changes to the Highway Traffic Act that you would recommend to safeguard our children’s safety on school buses?
Mr. Jean Soulière: Absolutely. We’ve been working with the city of Mississauga court services. Their prosecutors have recommended that subsections 175(11) and 175(12) of the Highway Traffic Act be opened. The law reads like this today: It says it’s illegal to pass a stopped school bus with its overhead lights flashing. The video captures someone passing a stopped school bus but doesn’t capture the overhead lights flashing. So the change is a recommendation to mirror what is done in Quebec, which is to change the language to read, “It’s illegal to pass a stopped school bus while its overhead lights are flashing or its mandatory stop arm is activated.” By having that, the evidence would be more powerful and better used. That has been a specific request from the city of Mississauga.
The second change would be very much in line with what has been done with red light cameras and what you guys will do with photo radar in school zones, which would be to make the video evidence true in the absence of proof to the contrary. What that would do is, it would keep our police officers and provincial offences officers on the streets, protecting our communities and the school bus drivers behind the wheels of their buses instead of having to testify in court. It would take a lot of the cost and burden out of the system.
Those are the two main changes that would be required. There’s further regulatory stuff that would also be worked at. We’ve been working with the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of the Attorney General to sensitize and educate people as to what steps would be needed. I’m sure you guys could find some of that information through them.
Mr. Rick Nicholls: There has been a lot of talk this afternoon with regard to safe community zones, as well as school zones. But the question I would have for you is: How is this different from photo radar cameras?
Mr. Jean Soulière: Photo radar in itself is a speed enforcement mechanism, whereas our cameras are only designed to catch people who pass a stopped school bus. We don’t take speed—in fact, the law doesn’t require speed to be tracked. It’s different in that it’s not a photo radar to detect speed; however, it is similar in the sense that it is automated technology that can be used to enforce the Highway Traffic Act in areas where our police officers simply don’t have the resources to go to.
I would just point to one last piece of data. In the province of Quebec in 2014, in the entire province, there were 1,180 stop-arm tickets issued. Our pilot data says that there were over 1.5 million occurrences. The truth is the same here. We just don’t have the data from the MTO that’s that specific. However, it points to the fact—and if you speak to any police officer, any service that enforces the law, they will say, “We can’t physically follow every bus on the road.” Also, the Sudbury police went as far as saying, “This technology would save us money and save us time, because we wouldn’t have to be taking depositions of bus drivers who have given us licence plates and following up; we could rely on the technology to focus our efforts where they need to be.”
Mr. Rick Nicholls: Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much.
Mr. Jean Soulière: Thank you, everyone. I appreciate your time. Have a wonderful day.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Hold it, hold it, hold it.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Mr. Gates.
Mr. Jean Soulière: Oh, sorry. I didn’t—
Mr. Wayne Gates: What’s going on here?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We’re saving the best for last. Go ahead, sir.
Mr. Wayne Gates: You’ve got to jump in quicker, man. They want to get out of here before I hammer them.
Mr. Jean Soulière: Go. Bring it on.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Listen, it’s interesting to me, especially the comments coming from the PCs, because they’re trying to make the school safety zone with the photo radar different than cameras on the school bus. I mean, that’s where he’s going.
But here’s my humble opinion about this: The cameras for school safety—you’re right—will try to slow speeders down. But in your case, the camera is still being used in a court of law as evidence for the person who blew through that stop sign, if I’m correct. Is that not accurate?
Mr. Jean Soulière: Ticketing will be easier, yes.
Mr. Wayne Gates: So it’s really interesting to me that this party is saying they’re not going to support school safety zones to save kids, but they have no problem with having cameras on school buses that are really doing the exact same thing.
I think that what you’ve come on to here is great. I think it’s wonderful. I think that any time we can have better safety for our kids—that’s what’s it’s all about at the end of the day. I agree with it, but I just wanted to say that, because I listened to your response very carefully, and I believe that it’s the same thing used in a different way, using the technology that we should be using, by the way, to make it safer. I just wanted to get that out. We can agree to disagree on that, but—
Mr. Jean Soulière: If I can make a comment?
Mr. Wayne Gates: Go ahead. I didn’t run out of time.
Mr. Jean Soulière: I’m not here in any political form, so partisanship doesn’t come in front of child safety for me. I can tell you that there are members of the Conservative Party, members of the Liberal Party and members of the NDP who have all been very supportive. In fact, Bill 94, which has some of these changes in it, was co-sponsored by John Fraser and Rick Nicholls.
I can tell you that, when it comes to school bus safety and child safety, personally I have felt nothing but love and support from every member of government. I don’t know—
Mr. Wayne Gates: That’s not my issue. That’s not my point. My point is, we all love you, okay?
Mr. Jean Soulière: I like to be loved.
Mr. Wayne Gates: All right. So I’m not going to say that. What I’m saying is that you can’t, on one hand, say that photo radar isn’t good and, on another hand, say it is good. What I’m saying is that, if it’s all about just safety of our kids, they’re both used in a different way, but they are both doing the same thing: They’re making our schools safer for our kids.
Mr. Jean Soulière: Making our kids safer is what it’s all about.
Mr. Wayne Gates: That’s right, and that’s what I’m trying to say on that. That’s all. I really appreciate your honesty on it because when I heard that, I went, “Exactly, that’s what I’ve been trying to say here for three hours now.”
Mr. Jean Soulière: Three hours, and you had one bathroom break.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I had one bathroom break, yes. Not bad for a senior, eh? It’s pretty good. I’m happy. Thanks, I appreciate it.
Mr. Jean Soulière: Thank you so much, guys. Have a wonderful day.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. I appreciate you staying for that extra three minutes.
Mr. Jean Soulière: I’m sorry.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): That’s okay. All is good.
Mr. Wayne Gates: It’s all good, man.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you. Have a great evening, sir.
Mr. Tobi Nussbaum
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We shall take the last delegation this evening via teleconference, members of the committee. We have Tobi Nussbaum, city councillor, ward 13, Rideau-Rockcliffe, in the great city of Ottawa.
Councillor, are you with us this afternoon? Councillor Nussbaum, are you with us this afternoon?
Mr. Tobi Nussbaum: Yes, can you hear me? Can you hear me at all?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Councillor Nussbaum from the city of Ottawa, representing ward 13, Rideau-Rockcliffe, are you with us this afternoon?
Mr. Tobi Nussbaum: I am. Can you hear me?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Okay, we’re going to turn the volume up here. Can you just say a few words?
Mr. Tobi Nussbaum: Hi, Mr. Chairman, Tobi Nussbaum here. I’m hoping you can hear me in your committee room.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We can hear you now. We’re going to ask for a little bit of increase in volume here.
Mr. Tobi Nussbaum: Okay.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): I think it’s coming.
We would like to welcome you this afternoon via teleconference. How are things in the great city of Ottawa? Is it sunny?
Mr. Tobi Nussbaum: It’s a beautiful day here in Ottawa. I know you probably wouldn’t know because you’ve been sitting in committee all afternoon, but I hope to not take too much more of your time.
I know that you’ve heard from a number of my colleagues already this afternoon, who spoke in support of the bill before you, and given that I too am supportive of this bill, I don’t need to take the full length of the time that you’ve allotted to me—maybe just to make a few observations.
One is—and this is why I’m grateful for this bill—that it’s important to remind ourselves that by passing this bill, the Legislature would only be empowering democratically elected municipal councils to have the option to utilize these tools. You’re not proposing to impose these changes. Municipalities would have the option if they wanted to utilize them.
I’d like to think the Legislature is doing this as a consequence of countless councils, including my own, sending messages and writing letters to ministers and others indicating that residents really care about these things. They want safer streets. Cities want the ability to enforce speed limits. They want to make sure they have the tools.
I think you probably heard from others as well, and maybe some of the elected representatives in your room know that—certainly in my case, speeding is the number one issue that I hear about. Residents really do care about trying to make residential streets as safe as possible.
I’ve had a chance to go through the transcript of a lot of the discussion that has happened in the Legislature, and I just wanted to quickly offer three quick points, then I’m happy to take any questions if you have any, or you might at that stage want to wrap up.
The first is, I know there’s a lot of back and forth between supporters and detractors on the issue of the evidence of photo radar or speed cameras, whatever you want to call them. I just wanted to put a plug in for evidence that I’ve seen. If you look at systematic reviews, which are really the highest form of evidence in health research, they’re pretty clear. There have been two done that I’m aware of, the Cochrane group and the British Medical Journal, that have examined dozens and dozens of studies, and the conclusion is unequivocal that speed cameras, as they call them in the UK, have been very, very helpful.
I’ll just read you a quick quote from one. “The consistency of reported reductions in speed and crash outcomes across all studies show that speed cameras are a worthwhile intervention for reducing the number of road traffic injuries and deaths.”
That’s a conclusion that you’ll see across the systematic reviews. So, while it’s easy to pluck an individual study out, what you want to do is look at the reviews of multiple studies; that has been done twice. The evidence, as I say, is clear that speed cameras—photo radar—work in terms of reducing speeds.
You already know, I think, from all of the testimony you’ve heard, that when you reduce speed, you reduce the probability of serious injury and death of pedestrians and others. That’s, I guess, my starting point.
The second item that I wanted to mention quickly—and certainly we’ve had the debate here in the city of Ottawa too—you often hear detractors talk about a “cash grab.” I’ve always been interested in that concept, because normally we don’t speak negatively about the consequences of breaking the law. So I guess the first thing to say is that if you are a resident of Ontario and you are speeding, you are breaking the law, and the state needs to have some way of penalizing those people. A fine is in some ways the least severe. But the idea that it is wrong to penalize people who break the law, I think is a bit of an odd criticism of the idea of having speed cameras on our residential streets.
That said, I would like to think that municipalities, when and if they establish speed cameras, will do two things to make sure that they’re addressing issues of, let’s say, equity. One of them is that municipalities could certainly set a de minimis speeding limit before you would have a picture taken. So, if you’re in a 40 zone, I don’t think anyone imagines that if you’re driving at 41 kilometres an hour you’re going to get a ticket if you were caught by a speed camera. That issue of fairness and reasonableness will be one that cities have to take on and defend.
The second thing that I wanted to observe is that I certainly think it would be interesting in our case to look at the options of essentially gauging revenues from speeding and seeing if we couldn’t reinvest those in traffic safety projects. I know that has been done in other cities. I think in Edmonton, they did something like that. That’s a really positive way of ensuring that this is a positive feedback loop. If we’re worried about safety in a particular area and a resident is caught speeding, we take the revenues from that and we reinvest them in making our streets even safer. That was just one attempt at addressing the so-called cash grab argument.
The last thing I would say—and I can end on this note—is that I want to tell a quick anecdote about a mail package I received in my office in January. It contained about 25 individual letters from grade 7 schoolchildren at Queen Elizabeth Public School in Ottawa. It was amazing. Their teacher had gotten some kind of speed measurement device. These kids had done a great job. They had gone out to the street right in front of their school. They had really given me articulate and passionate arguments for why speeding on their street in front of their school was a major problem and a major issue. They talked about near misses, they talked about crossing the street, they talked about noise and they talked about safety. I invited this class to our city hall and we sat down and we had a discussion.
This was a question they put to me. They said, “Why isn’t there an opportunity for cities to have cameras that can catch people who are violating our speeding laws?” I said to them, “You know what? The province is doing a great job on this. They’re looking at this. We can expect to have progress soon.”
I want to end on this note of: Even school kids are engaged on this. They care about it. I want to thank the government for introducing this bill. I want to thank all of those MPPs who will be voting in favour of it. I really do think that it goes a long way toward allowing cities to take important steps, if they choose, to make our streets safer, slower and really improve what’s happening in our school zones and community safety zones.
Mr. Chairman, I can stop there. I’m happy to take any questions if you have any, or not.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Councillor; much appreciated.
We’ll start with the official opposition. Ms. Munro.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Thank you very much for taking the time to give us your opinions. We’ve certainly heard from other presenters today, as you might imagine, similar related issues, which makes this an easier bill—to provide ways in which to approach it because there is that kind of consensus. I would just thank you for making time available. We appreciate your comments today.
Mr. Tobi Nussbaum: Thanks.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Hey, Tobi. How are you? I just wanted to say that it was a good thing you weren’t going to say much.
I want to congratulate everybody from Ottawa. They have certainly heightened the awareness of the importance of this bill to your community.
I’ve just got one question: Is there any elected representative in Ottawa who isn’t supporting the bill, or any community around Ottawa not supporting the bill?
Mr. Tobi Nussbaum: When we had a motion before council in 2016, which essentially asked the mayor to write a letter to the Premier seeking the exact types of powers that Bill 65 proposes to give to municipalities, I believe that was a unanimous vote, but I’m happy to have that fact-checked. My memory is that that was a 24-0 vote.
Mr. Wayne Gates: That’s very good. The last thing I’ll say is: Who is Ottawa playing in the next round? Does anybody in Ottawa know?
Mr. Tobi Nussbaum: We know indeed. We’re looking forward to hosting the New York Rangers and showing them how we play hockey up here in Ottawa.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Good luck with that.
Mr. Tobi Nussbaum: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We’ll move to the government: Ms. Vernile.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: Good afternoon, Tobi. How are you today?
Mr. Tobi Nussbaum: I’m well, thank you.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: This is Daiene Vernile. I’m the MPP for Kitchener Centre. I will share with you that in my region of Waterloo, our chief of police, our council and our mayor all support Bill 65.
We had some really great representation from Ottawa this afternoon. Earlier, we had one of your colleagues, Catherine McKenney, appearing before us. She said something that really resonated, and I wrote it down. I’ll share it with you. She said, “As elected representatives, we have an ethical responsibility” to ensure safe streets.
I’m pleased to let you know that as we move forward with this legislation, the NDP is supporting it and have, along the way. Sadly, the Conservatives do not support this piece of legislation. They’ve called it a cash grab. They don’t want to see the community safety zones piece added to Bill 65 along with the school safety zones.
Tobi, you’ve got an opportunity right now to speak directly to the PCs. What would you say to them on their negative position on Bill 65?
Mr. Tobi Nussbaum: Thank you for the question. I think that I’ve addressed the issue of the cash grab. I really think it is important, on those two points that I mentioned—one of them is that we’re talking about breaking the law. Our criminal justice system and our civil justice system are all based on the idea that if you violate the law, there needs to be a penalty, and that’s what we’re talking about here.
That said, I want to be fair in terms of the human element. Let’s say you established a 40-kilometre or 30-kilometre school zone speed limit and you put a speed camera in front. I haven’t heard anyone say we would want to set a camera like that at 30.5 kilometres an hour and penalize anyone if they went a tenth of a kilometre per hour over the speed limit.
I do think it’s important to say that cities, if this bill is passed, will now have the responsibility of the reasonableness test and, frankly, residents will have to either praise or criticize their city council if they’re happy or unhappy with that.
I guess what I would say to members who are concerned about the community safety zones and are arguing the cash grab point is that all Bill 65 is actually doing is giving municipal councils the power to take on the responsibility. It will be those of us on the municipal councils who will succeed or fail if, let’s say, residents of our wards are unhappy with that.
I hope that will help reduce the pressure and the sense of responsibility that it’s the Legislature that’s making the decision. It’s not. You’re giving councils the power in this bill, and then it becomes our accountability. I hope that might be a way for those who may have a problem with speed cameras to find a way to vote in favour of this bill.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: Tobi, I would say to you that on the day that we pass this, I would encourage you to bring those children from your community to Queen’s Park to watch it happen. Show them that community engagement works.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Councillor, for sharing your comments with us this afternoon; much appreciated. And good luck to the Senators.
Mr. Tobi Nussbaum: Good luck to you, and thank you again for giving me this opportunity. Good luck as the bill moves forward.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you. Good luck to you.
That concludes our delegations this afternoon. It was a jam-packed four hours. I’d like to thank the committee for their great work and remind you that we’ll be back here at 4 p.m. on Wednesday as we can conclude two hours with another full agenda.
At this time, there is no further business. Thanks to all the support that we’ve had here today. This meeting is adjourned.
The committee adjourned at 1748.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT
Chair / Président
Mr. Grant Crack (Glengarry–Prescott–Russell L)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Président
Mr. Granville Anderson (Durham L)
Mr. Granville Anderson (Durham L)
Mr. Yvan Baker (Etobicoke Centre / Etobicoke-Centre L)
Mr. Mike Colle (Eglinton–Lawrence L)
Mr. Grant Crack (Glengarry–Prescott–Russell L)
Mme Nathalie Des Rosiers (Ottawa–Vanier L)
Mrs. Lisa Gretzky (Windsor West / Windsor-Ouest ND)
Ms. Ann Hoggarth (Barrie L)
Mrs. Julia Munro (York–Simcoe PC)
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson (Huron–Bruce PC)
Substitutions / Membres remplaçants
Mr. Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls ND)
Mr. Michael Harris (Kitchener–Conestoga PC)
Ms. Sophie Kiwala (Kingston and the Islands / Kingston et les Îles L)
Ms. Daiene Vernile (Kitchener Centre / Kitchener-Centre L)
Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes
Mr. Rick Nicholls (Chatham–Kent–Essex PC)
Clerk / Greffière
Ms. Sylwia Przezdziecki
Staff / Personnel
Mr. Michael Vidoni, research officer,