STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT
COMITÉ PERMANENT DES AFFAIRES GOUVERNEMENTALES
Wednesday 26 April 2017 Mercredi 26 avril 2017
The committee met at 1600 in committee room 2.
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.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Well, good afternoon, everyone. I’d like to call the Standing Committee on General Government to order.
We are here to discuss Bill 65, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act in respect of speed limits in municipalities and other matters.
I’d like to welcome members of the committee, members of the public who will be presenting, and other viewers, as well as the support staff who are here. Thank you for all that you do.
We have a full agenda until 6 o’clock. As such, each presenter will be allotted up to six minutes for their presentation, followed by up to three minutes of questioning from each of the three parties.
Having said that, the meeting is called to order.
Mr. Bob Kwapis
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): I call upon Mr. Bob Kwapis, city councillor for ward 5 of the great town of Newmarket. We welcome you, sir.
Mr. Bob Kwapis: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): The floor is yours, sir.
Mr. Bob Kwapis: Thank you for this opportunity. My name is Bob Kwapis. I’m a councillor for the town of Newmarket, in ward 5. I’ve been very active in focusing on speed mitigation in our community for the last few years, and I really welcome the proposed amendments to Bill 65.
Most municipalities have a serious speeding problem in high-risk areas on their residential roads. Those are around schools, parks and seniors’ homes. Drivers are sometimes preoccupied or even disrespectful in these areas.
We all know and understand that it is impossible, as well as inefficient, to have an enforcement officer monitor these high-risk areas at all times. There isn’t a week that goes by where I do not receive a call from a concerned resident who demands some kind of speed enforcement to be implemented, and rightfully so. Residents just don’t feel safe in certain community zones, when crossing the street or going to school or going to their parks. Realistically, we just cannot expect or afford to have highly qualified police officers monitor all these high-risk zones 24/7.
We have proven, reliable technology available today. The high-risk-intersection red light cameras are proof of that. We need to expand this type of technology for municipalities to use. Have the municipalities use this technology in areas that they know best as high-risk.
Automated speed enforcement, or ASE, offers a practical addition to traffic calming. It provides another tool for municipalities to consider in addressing community concerns about speeding, especially in high-risk areas such as our school zones and around parks.
York region, including our town of Newmarket, is well suited to adapt electronic speed enforcement in these high-risk areas. As far as I know, York region is the only region that has already identified and designated community zones. This designation makes our community well positioned to adapt automated speed enforcement and even to be used as a test pilot for ASE.
On February 16, York regional council adopted recommendations of the committee of the whole regarding Bill 65, and on March 20, 2017, our town of Newmarket council unanimously supported the passing of this resolution for Bill 65 as well.
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Ontario MPP Mike Colle of Eglinton–Lawrence for introducing Bill 65 and amendments at Queen’s Park—his own versions; our own Ontario MPP, Chris Ballard of Newmarket–Aurora, and Brian Patterson, president of the Ontario Safety League, for supporting this bill throughout the process; and our own mayor, Tony Van Bynen, for originally tabling community safety zones back in 2012, officially identifying high-risk areas in York region.
I also wanted to thank many community leaders, such as Nancy Fish from the ward 5 traffic committee, who tirelessly continue to focus on making our communities safer for everyone.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, sir.
We’ll start with the third party. Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Hi. How are you?
Mr. Bob Kwapis: Very good, thank you.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I used to be a city councillor. We obviously had lots of discussion, when I was at city council, around school safety.
Yesterday, we had people come from Ottawa and from Toronto who talked about the areas around the schools and, quite frankly, how unsafe they are—and they’re not. So I’m wondering: In your community, how many accidents are you having around your schools? Just to give you a heads-up on theirs, they actually had two teachers who got hit. Their careers are finished; they can no longer go back to work. A six-year-old was killed on our streets, in Toronto, on Friday. This is a serious, serious issue.
I’m glad that you’re presenting today. Maybe you can give me an update on what’s going on in Newmarket. What’s going on around some of the schools in your area?
Mr. Bob Kwapis: Thank you, Mr. Gates. In Newmarket, we’re very fortunate that we have not had any major incidents such as deaths. However, we have a lot of close calls. The problem with these close calls is that a lot of them do not get reported; therefore, the actual stats are skewed. Most of the people just brush it off and go on with their daily lives. Unfortunately, we can’t wait until somebody gets hurt. It’s way too late at that time. We, and even I personally, continuously receive phone calls from concerned parents, from principals and so on saying, “Schools are really bad areas.”
What I am looking for is just saying, “Look, this a community zone. This is a high-risk zone.” Let’s put some kind of signage on there saying, “You’re entering an electronic enforcement zone.” It’s very similar to red light camera—fair warning is there. I hope we don’t get any revenue for it. I hope those signs will be enough to say this is a high-risk area. But if you do decide to speed through that area, you will pay the penalty and hopefully, at that moment—the whole culture has to change, saying, “I can shave off 15 seconds there, but is it really worth it?”
Mr. Wayne Gates: Maybe you can explain your community zones and what you think a community zone should be.
Mr. Bob Kwapis: We have community zones throughout York region. They’re specifically around areas where there are schools and parks and even senior-concentrated areas, such as seniors’ homes.
If we see that there is an area of high use combined with—again, most of them are residential areas, and that’s what I’m looking for. There isn’t that much traffic on some of these residential streets, but when there is, the 40-kilometre-an-hour zone is just ignored totally. In many cases, people will go double that speed because it’s a straight-through, not knowing that there’s a park around the corner or not knowing that there’s a school around the corner. Those are the areas that have been identified and usually get identified very effectively by the actual towns or cities themselves. They know them best.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We’ll move to the government. Mr. Colle.
Mr. Mike Colle: Councillor, thank you for coming down to Queen’s Park and for your advocacy for safer streets for our citizens.
I know that you’ve undertaken some pretty unique initiatives in Newmarket, in York region. Could you just describe a couple of these initiatives that you’ve undertaken that have worked or, at least—I know that Nancy has been out there with her signs and everything, but what initiatives have worked in Newmarket?
Mr. Bob Kwapis: Thank you for that question. Actually, Nancy will probably explain it in a little bit more detail. Over the last few years, we felt very strongly that education, talking to the community, making sure the community understands that other people live in these communities—just talking door to door to people and being very visible in parent evenings at schools. We also produce many lawn signs that are very unique, that are free of charge for any resident in Newmarket who can put signs on their front lawn.
We also work very closely with York Regional Police on initiatives where you can do a report online. At that moment, York Regional Police will take that report and deliver a letter of warning, in full uniform, to a repeat offender. Obviously, they will not be able to produce a ticket because there is no evidence of that, but they will be able to bring a letter of warning, saying, “You have been noted as speeding in that area.”
Those are a few of the initiatives—just working with the community and so on. That’s why I alluded to the fact that the municipality still needs more powerful tools, such as a little bit more flexibility in what else we can do with that.
Mr. Mike Colle: I know you noticed, along with Nancy Fish—you were looking at things like painting double yellow lines down the middle of the road, and temporary speed bumps in some cases. You even talked about special brick treatment of the road, so that people will be slowed down, or at least see that they’re in a school zone.
In York region—I’ll ask Nancy too—are there rules on the requirement to have signage in school areas? Because I know that in Toronto, it’s really a hodgepodge. Some school areas have zero signs; some have one. I’m just wondering, in York region, between the different school boards and the different municipalities which you have, like Newmarket, is there a policy of uniform school-crossing signage?
Mr. Bob Kwapis: I am not too sure if the policies are across the whole region. However, Newmarket prides itself that they do have signage in areas such as school zones.
The re-engineering of roads that you’re mentioning, such as different markings and narrowing the roads, or even bicycle lanes in certain areas, does calm traffic down. However, it is a re-engineering of a road.
What happens is, these are some of the tools that we are using in somewhat effective—maybe not as effective—ways. In certain areas, they are somewhat successful but not always successful.
What I’m basically saying is that there are tools. Some of them work; some of them do not. It’s a continuous thing that we are doing in educating people, the public, about these zones. But I do feel that additional measures need to be taken.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We appreciate it. We’ll move to the official opposition. Ms. Munro? Mr. Harris.
Mr. Michael Harris: Bob, good afternoon. Thanks. Has the council established any ideas as to what revenue may be generated through this, perhaps in the first year, if given the opportunity?
Mr. Bob Kwapis: Not at all. I don’t think the council is looking at this from a revenue perspective. The council and the town are looking at this from a speeding mitigation perspective. We hope we do not get any revenue whatsoever. We hope nobody pays a ticket. So we haven’t looked at that.
Mr. Michael Harris: Obviously, the bill title is Safe Schools Act, but it is allowed to be extended into community safety zones. What would you describe as a community safety zone within the town of Newmarket? What would that look like in your municipality?
Mr. Bob Kwapis: Community safety zones in Newmarket alone are always around parks, around schools, in which the speed fines are doubled. Unfortunately, they need enforcement, and that’s the idea behind community zones: If there is enforcement, the speed fine will be doubled.
Another one is seniors. We have a few buildings where there’s a majority of seniors in there. It doesn’t have to be a retirement home; it could be just a seniors’ home where a majority of residents are seniors. We would have that as a community zone if the residents require that. If they require to cross the street a little bit longer or so on, we do re-engineer the roads where there’s an island in the middle or whatever. But we still put that as a community zone, saying, “Look, there are going to be pedestrians over here.”
Mr. Michael Harris: Are you aware that, if a ticket was issued via photo radar, that fine would be doubled in those areas?
Mr. Bob Kwapis: I don’t know at this moment if it would be or not.
Mr. Michael Harris: Should it be?
Mr. Bob Kwapis: Again, I hope there is no ticket. I hope that nobody will be getting fined. The idea behind this: If it’s identified very clearly that there is electronic speed enforcement in a certain area and somebody chooses to speed, yes, they should be fined; absolutely. At that moment, it’s their choice. Should they be doubled? I’m not too sure yet.
Mr. Michael Harris: Okay. Thanks a lot.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We appreciate you, Councillor, coming before committee this afternoon and sharing your insight.
Mr. Bob Kwapis: Thank you.
Canadian Automobile Association
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next we have on the agenda, from the Canadian Automobile Association—no stranger to Queen’s Park—Mr. Elliott Silverstein.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Welcome, sir. It’s good to see you again.
Mr. Elliott Silverstein: Thank you. It’s good to see you as well.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): The floor is yours. You have six minutes.
Mr. Elliott Silverstein: Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and members of the standing committee. My name is Elliott Silverstein, and I’m manager of government relations at CAA South Central Ontario. I’m pleased to speak with you today regarding Bill 65.
While CAA has been advocating on behalf of our members since 1903, school zone safety has been a cornerstone of our efforts for nearly 90 years. Through our ongoing efforts with governments and police partners to promote the need for safety in school areas, we’ve been operating the CAA School Safety Patrol in Ontario since 1929.
For those unfamiliar with the school safety patrol program, it’s a joint effort between CAA, the police, school boards, teachers, parents and more than 20,000 dedicated student volunteers across the province. Those involved give their time to ensure that their peers remain safe at road crossings and on school buses throughout Ontario. Currently, there are over 800 schools in Ontario that participate in the program, and we’ve partnered with over 55 police services to deliver the program.
Each fall, CAA works extensively to remind motorists to be aware of our youngest road users as they head to and depart from school each day. But the risks for children are a daily occurrence in different communities across the province.
Last year, CAA conducted a poll of its members on the question of installing photo radar in school zones. At the time, 70% of respondents supported the potential use of the tool in school areas. This legislation, if passed, would provide municipalities across Ontario the opportunity to leverage these tools to help address safety issues in these zones.
Within Bill 65, it’s also proposed that municipalities would have the opportunity to install photo radar measures in community safety zones. Currently, the definition of a community safety zone is not within the Highway Traffic Act and could vary between municipalities, which ultimately could result in confusion for the public if photo radar measures were introduced in a particular area.
For example, potentially establishing a minimum criteria to highlight what would qualify for a community safety zone would not only help prepare motorists but also provide a foundation and consistency for municipalities as cities and towns consider instituting these measures.
As discussion and debate on this bill continues, it’s imperative that public education, through a campaign either at the provincial or local level, be a component of any initiative. This would help further awareness about community safety zones for the public for their understanding, so they also understand what comprises one of these zones and how to distinguish where they are. This could include what the road and sign markings are to define a community safety zone, the types of facilities that are found in these zones, and potential fines associated with violations.
The concepts proposed in Bill 65 would help address safety issues where law enforcement may not always be present. However, items like photo radar in school zones should be viewed as an attempt to complement existing law enforcement efforts, not replace them, and provide an additional measure to keep our communities safe. Those who are speeding in these zones, it is hoped, will change their behaviour if caught for violating posted speeds.
Even with this bill, there is a responsibility for all road users to keep their eyes focused on the road and be alert, particularly in school and community zones. Even with additional technology, it is imperative that road users pay extra attention in residential areas and in school zones and be ready to stop at all times, as children may dart out between parked vehicles.
The safety of all road users is a critical factor for CAA. As a provider of one of the longest-standing school zone safety programs, CAA is pleased that Bill 65 offers measures to help municipalities and law enforcement across Ontario. By introducing these options, there is continued focus on making Ontario’s municipal roads safe, with a particular emphasis on children and communities.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, sir. We shall move to the government. Mr. Colle.
Mr. Mike Colle: Thank you, Elliott. I guess the thing that the CAA has always been involved in is the education component. What would you recommend be done differently to have a robust education component here? What other things could be done that would help?
Mr. Elliott Silverstein: I think part of the challenge, and also the opportunity right now, is that not every part of the province has community safety zones in place. When you look at it from the school zones, it really is reinforcing what is out there. But from the community safety zone perspective, it really is working together, whether it be administered centrally or in areas that are looking to institute community safety zones—that you help educate motorists. If they don’t know what’s out there, they won’t know how to correct their behaviour.
At the end of the day, it really is an opportunity to help motorists who are going to see something brand new in their communities, to give them the guidance on why it’s important, why there is a need for safety, and what ultimately the end result will be in terms of safety.
Mr. Mike Colle: It reminds me of when, years ago, we brought in photo radar—not photo radar but, later than that, the red light camera. There was a debate in Toronto about whether you put a warning sign ahead of the red light intersection, saying, “You are approaching a red light camera intersection.”
Toronto, I think, to the best of my knowledge, decided not to have the warnings. It was my opinion that you’ve got to warn people, and the warning itself would alter behaviour. So I’m thinking, with the school safety zones—don’t you think there should be warning signs in advance? People are travelling up in Newmarket and York region; people are travelling across huge areas. Should there be pre-warning signs that you are about to enter a school safety zone in so many kilometres or something?
Mr. Elliott Silverstein: That’s an excellent point. Just drawing on your example—York region is coming in this afternoon. I know there are some areas that have red light cameras in those areas, and as you approach those intersections, they do have the signage that says, “Red light camera intersection.” So it does give you that opportunity to understand what you’re about to enter.
I think it is valid to make the argument that people at least understand where it’s coming from, so it’s not a hidden tool and, all of a sudden, you find out later on that you’ve been hit with a ticket, and you have to think back to where you were and what you were doing.
Really, at the end of the day, what you want to try to do through these measures, whether it be the police stopping you on the side of the road or otherwise—is that people are going to learn from their actions. If somebody gets pulled over for a speeding ticket, they’re going to recognize they drove at a speed over, and they’re going to work to correct their behaviour. That type of knowledge, that type of signage, I think, is an investment that would potentially help people understand.
Mr. Mike Colle: But I’m talking about a pre-warning sign. You see, that’s what Toronto didn’t do; they didn’t warn you in advance. That’s why I’m saying I hope, if they do the final details here, that they have a pre-warning, before you get to the school zone, that five kilometers ahead, you’re going into a community safety zone.
Mr. Elliott Silverstein: I think there’s merit in that, depending on the areas. I think it would be subject to what the requirements are, depending on how broad these areas are. School zones can be relatively small; community safety zones could be somewhat larger. I think setting some definitions on minimum and maximum standards would be valid here, because that would also help people understand. So if it was, say, 800 metres away or whatnot, that you had something you’d at least see, you’d have an opportunity to correct your actions before entering that space. I think there certainly is merit in that.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We’ll move to the official opposition. Mr. Harris.
Mr. Michael Harris: It sounds like a private member’s bill, Mike, that somebody may have tabled recently.
Elliott, good afternoon, and thanks again for CAA’s advocacy right across the province—obviously, a long-standing history with school crossing guards, a whole lot of measures.
You talked about consistent signage with regard to community safety zones. This obviously isn’t addressed within the bill right now. I’m not sure if you want to speak a bit more on why it would be important to have consistency, whether it be entering a school zone, like MPP Colle had suggested, or, in addition, for community safety zones—and perhaps some suggestions as to what that criteria might look like in terms of what a community safety zone actually is. So it’s two questions there.
Mr. Elliott Silverstein: Sure. Thank you for the question. In terms of why, and why the consistency, I think what it really comes down to is that we’re seeing more and more that people are travelling in and out of different municipalities, and because this is an opportunity, through this bill, to give municipalities the option—you may drive through some communities that have these measures in place, and others that may not. So I think that having the signage there, to understand where these zones are being set up and that there could be a penalty involved, is critical, because understanding and providing awareness to motorists is key.
In terms of the question around what constitutes a community safety zone, I think that’s a question, going back to the education piece, that is really a critical discussion because some areas will define it as schools, parks, seniors’ homes, hospitals and potentially even daycares. But for others, they may look at it from the perspective of roads or intersections that have had high rates of incidents, of collisions or pedestrians being hit.
So I think that setting a minimum standard of what would constitute a community safety zone would be important because instead of being all things to everybody, it needs to really define what the purpose is. I think that we all have a functional understanding of what the goal here is, but I think it sometimes needs to be carved out a bit better because you want to make sure that it’s not being used for purposes other than what it’s supposed to be.
Mr. Michael Harris: Right. I know the bill also talks about bubbling licence plates, that is basically a result of poor manufacturing. I don’t know if you’ve surveyed any of your members or have had any suggestions from your members on that particular section within the bill.
Mr. Elliott Silverstein: In terms of the licence plates, I think it’s a bit of a challenge for those that are being impacted by it because it’s a situation where it’s not negligence on their part. It was a situation where there was faulty material provided by a vendor. So I think the question comes down to: At what point does it become a plate that requires a swap at a cost versus at no cost? Because if somebody has a plate for 20 years, it could be in great condition and somebody who’s had one for two years, it may need replacing. I think really defining and clarifying when somebody has to be subject to the $50 charge—$50 may not seem like much for some people, but it is for others. Getting those plates in good faith I think is important. The responsibility falls on the vendor to make sure they provide a good product.
Mr. Michael Harris: Agreed. Thanks, Elliott.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Hey. Good afternoon, buddy. How are you?
Mr. Elliott Silverstein: Good, thank you.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Great. I just want to get it off the top, I say it all the time when I see you: We belong to CAA. My wife just came back from booking a trip to Jamaica without me—I just thought I’d say that.
You’ve spoken to these types of bills many, many times. The history of your organization is incredible, what you’ve done around school safety. Are you aware of the bill from 2011 that never passed? Did you or somebody from your organization speak to that bill?
Mr. Elliott Silverstein: It’s quite possible; that was just before my time joining the organization. I’d have to go back and confirm that.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Okay, well, I’ll help you with this one then. Did you speak to the bill in 2015 that was put forward by the NDP—Bill 99?
Mr. Elliott Silverstein: I believe so.
Mr. Wayne Gates: And you’re obviously speaking to the bill from Mr. Colle in 2017. I’ll just give my good friend Mr. Colle—it’s your bill; you can add whatever you want. I just thought I’d let you know that.
But I want to say on Bill 99, before I get into the schools—Bill 99 talked about protecting workers and having cameras around work zones where we know that a number of Ontario workers have been killed. What’s your organization’s opinion? Should that be included in this bill as well?
Mr. Elliott Silverstein: I think when it comes to work zones, it’s an area that very much needs further discussion. Just going back to your point on some previous bills, CAA has been actively involved and was successful in getting the “slow down, move over” initiatives for tow truck drivers back in 2015.
We hear on a regular basis that construction zones are a sore point for a lot of people because people are working with very limited amounts of space, and we want to keep people safe and we want people to have a safe place to work. Whether this is the bill for it or not, I’m not sure. I really couldn’t speak to how that would fit. Certainly, when it comes to construction zones and keeping people safe, I think if you were to ask the general public, they would support that because we see it every day in different parts of Ontario, and we see how limited the workspace is. I think it is something that is worth discussing.
Mr. Wayne Gates: They also do it for police officers, where you now have to pull over when you see a police officer pulled over.
Mr. Elliott Silverstein: Yes, that’s “slow down, move over.”
Mr. Wayne Gates: I guess I’m just thinking that if I’m a worker, I still have a family at home and I still have kids at home. We should be doing everything we can for them as well.
Mr. Elliott Silverstein: Absolutely, and I know that MPP Harris has introduced a “slow down, move over” bill that furthered what has already been out there for fire, police, ambulance and tow trucks. One of the nice things about this discussion is that I think that we’re all talking about different pieces in very much the same way, but trying to keep people safe, from construction workers to children and whatnot.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I appreciate that. A big part of what we’re seeing—
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We appreciate it.
Mr. Wayne Gates: That’s it?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): You were doing great.
Thank you, Mr. Silverstein, for coming before committee this afternoon.
Ontario Traffic Council
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next we have on the agenda, from the Ontario Traffic Council, Marco D’Angelo. He is the executive director.
We welcome you, sir. You have up to six minutes.
Mr. Marco D’Angelo: Thank you very much. Good afternoon. On the day Bill 65 was announced, the Ontario Traffic Council brought together approximately 20 of Ontario’s largest municipalities to begin to develop a prototype for a municipal ASE program. If the bill does pass, we want our municipal members to be ready as soon as possible to create an ASE program.
One of the things that we want to ensure—and it came up earlier—is that these programs are consistent. We want the programs, no matter what city they’re placed in, to have a similar look and feel, so that as you travel across the province, you’ll have the same expectancy with respect to where the speed cameras are—and that does include advance signage.
A model was first created with the red light camera program, which was referenced earlier. That was back in 2000. Over time, more and more municipalities have opted in, to ensure the programs were uniform across the province.
If Bill 65 becomes law, the OTC supports the creation of a steering committee comprised of the cities that wish to develop and roll out an ASE program. The steering committee would oversee all aspects of the administration and the timing. It would develop operating parameters, such as minimum threshold speeds, the question of 24/7 enforcement and other issues.
The red light municipalities already have the benefit of having experience dealing with court services, keeping data secure by ensuring privacy issues are also dealt with, as well as maintaining a single joint processing centre to process all of the tickets in Ontario. That’s one of the strengths of the red light camera program. Currently, that’s run by the Toronto traffic safety unit. But no matter which red light camera you pass—whether it’s in one of the other cities—it’s processed through that traffic safety unit, and the municipality, if it’s not Toronto, pays a portion of the overhead. The OTC supports a municipally based joint processing centre using the same model that was used with red light cameras.
With respect to school zones, the OTC proposes a definition that would include the area encompassing within a 500-metre radius of the main entrance of the school, including municipal streets, with a speed limit of less than 90 kilometres an hour, excluding all provincial highways. The 500-metre radius would recognize that most school-age children who are walking to school are within that range. They are too close to be eligible for busing, for example.
In terms of “community safety zones,” we hope to provide additional definition to that term. We believe that it could include that municipal council must report and detail specific safety concerns and the techniques utilized in an attempt to mediate the specific safety concerns—the result of those techniques, as a justification before declaring the community safety zone.
Finally, on court issues, courts that deal with Provincial Offences Act matters don’t have the capacity to schedule trial requests which may result from automated speed enforcement tickets. There’s a strong preference among OTC member municipalities that ASE offences could be managed through the administrative monetary penalty system, also known as AMP. Section 21.1 of the HTA was enacted to allow the Lieutenant Governor in Council to make regulations prescribing administrative monetary penalties for certain offences. Many municipalities believe that these types of offences, which use advanced technology, are ideal to be administered through an AMP system, to reduce court backlog and to provide a more citizen-friendly approach to resolving offences.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We appreciate your comments.
We’ll start with the official opposition. Mr. Harris.
Mr. Michael Harris: Good afternoon. You talked about consistency of the process. Are you aware as of right now, through any consultations or discussions with the government, that in fact that would be the case—or, in your opinion, perhaps just left up to the municipalities to decide on their own?
Mr. Marco D’Angelo: I don’t think the province has gotten that far down the road. What they did with red light cameras, though, from the beginning was to allow for this steering committee, which took advice from the Ministry of the Attorney General and MTO. The original red light camera cities created steps such as trying to get the same procurement, the same vendor, and establishing the same custody for the data. They are able to do that, and they manage it well and do it with very low overhead. We believe that those communities—they’ve got 15 years of experience running a red light camera program—video-based technology, mailing tickets, that sort of thing, collecting evidence—and it’s been a very successful process, so we would like to see the province enter into a similar arrangement to allow for the processing of those ASE tickets, similar to how the red light camera program was rolled out.
Mr. Michael Harris: Additionally, you talked about expanding the parameters around school zones, to require a nice, tight definition. What would be your suggestions on community safety zones, in terms of a definition?
Mr. Marco D’Angelo: Well, the suggestion that I gave was that the municipal council has to detail the specific safety concerns and the techniques that they have tried before declaring the community safety zone. It’s very difficult to put in a standard that would apply across the province. We have cities that are big and small that can afford to do big and little things in terms of speed mitigation. So we want to still give councils the ability to select where they designate the zone, but we believe that there must be documentation reporting to show that an attempt was made to reduce speed before declaring the zones and before deploying the radar.
Mr. Michael Harris: Give us a couple of examples of what those techniques might be, that a municipality might employ prior to—
Mr. Marco D’Angelo: Okay, so a cost-effective one may be the rental of a message board. People have seen these where they’re driving, and it tells you what your speed is. They may put that up, and see if the average speed is affected over time. They may look at traffic-calming. They may look at narrowing lanes or other types of landscaping as well that could reduce speeds. Municipalities should make an effort, we believe, to do those things because automated speed enforcement is an expensive solution in the end.
Mr. Michael Harris: What about photo radar: Should it be fixed or should it be mobile?
Mr. Marco D’Angelo: That’s a great question. In terms of fixed versus mobile, if construction zones, which aren’t in the bill, were going to be included, we would need mobile units for that because obviously they’re not fixed. Fixed has additional costs in terms of having to bring electrification to the road. If there are no cars in the area, for some reason, you can’t really move the unit. So there are a lot of good things to say about using mobile. You could have both, but, again, that would create more overhead costs for the joint processing centre.
Mr. Michael Harris: Thanks a lot, Marco.
Mr. Marco D’Angelo: Okay, thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. Mr. Gates from the third party.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Good afternoon. How are you?
Mr. Marco D’Angelo: Good, thank you.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I understand your organization includes members from elected representatives, police services, traffic and transportation engineers, parking, industry and individuals in related fields. Could you discuss how this diverse range of insight and opinions within your organization has helped you determine the merits or potential shortcomings of this bill?
Mr. Marco D’Angelo: Thank you for that. The OTC represents a pretty broad range of traffic professionals, as you just laid out, and it gives us a unique position to speak on a number of different issues. For example, the OTC has just completed a school crossing guard guide administrator manual. So for anybody at a municipality that is running the adult crossing guard program, we’re putting out a brand new manual. It will be available on our website for free on May 9, so come back around noon.
We also work with the province in developing two Ontario traffic manuals. One is Book 15 dealing with pedestrian crossings, which led to some legislative changes where we have now those push-button PXOs. We also worked on Book 18 dealing with bicycle facilities, which have improved, if you go around our cities—improving those, changing the law with respect to bicycle signals.
We also do a number of training programs. One that would be of interest is we have an excellent temporary work zone training program. It’s a one-day workshop for any worker that works on a part of the roadway, to keep that person as safe as possible. We provide that training as well. So it’s a really broad mix, but I think it uniquely positions OTC as a good resource for this committee as you’re going through your deliberations on this bill.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I appreciate that. When we talk about pedestrian crossings in Toronto, we’re at a crisis stage in this city with people being hit, without a doubt, and you see the same thing with bicycles, so whatever we can do to help that situation get better would be great. What are the police services saying about this?
Mr. Marco D’Angelo: I think that this could be an asset for police services. It assists them in terms of redeploying their finite resources. They could go to a construction zone, in that time. If we have fixed cameras around a neighbourhood and we know where they are, that gives opportunities for police officers to go where the community—maybe there’s a special request or there’s a special need, or they can work on other traffic safety measures. There are a lot of unsafe things going on on our roads beyond speeding, and police are certainly best able to deal with those.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Okay. I’ll go back to the police services. Obviously, they’ve had this discussion. This is a bill that has been debated now for almost seven years—2011—and with bills in 2015 and 2017. This is not something that has come out of the sky here; this is something that has been debated.
I’d like to know exactly how the police are—because some of the arguments that I’ve heard over the last couple of days from one of the parties—I’m not sure which one it was, but certainly they argued it—were that there will be less police officers on the road, and police officers don’t like it because they’re losing their jobs. I think that’s probably furthest from the truth, but I’d like to hear what you’re hearing from the police services.
Mr. Marco D’Angelo: I haven’t heard anything like that. In fact, if you look at the city of Toronto, I think their fine revenue is down but their head count is not down, so they’re doing other work. That tells me this is where automated speed enforcement can really assist to fill that need to limit speeding. I think they go hand in hand.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I appreciate it. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We’re going to move to the government side. Ms. Vernile.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: Good afternoon, Marco. It’s good to see you here at Queen’s Park. You talked a lot about the equipment—the automated speed enforcement technology. Like Mr. Gates, I too am interested in your membership. Can you tell me a little bit more about who is part of this organization and where they stand on Bill 65?
Mr. Marco D’Angelo: Okay. We stand in support of it. We had a meeting yesterday; it was previously scheduled, very fortuitously. We had the 24 managers from traffic engineering meeting from across the province, and we were discussing what I would say here today and what we think would work best. The clear message was that it certainly is a tool that municipalities are welcoming, but with the caveat that processing needs to be done centrally to reduce the overhead costs, to have a similar look and feel across the province; and, in terms of what we know MTO will need later; for example, for the red light camera, in the red light camera regulations are specific names and models of the camera that you can use. We need to have a consortium that would go out and test those things. That’s why I was suggesting, on behalf of our municipalities, that we create an automated speed enforcement steering committee that would address the full mobile-versus-fixed issue that was raised, and address looking at winter conditions. But we want to make sure that we have a joint procurement process so everyone is using the same equipment with the same signage processed by the same officers so that we have a great, air-tight system like we do with the red light camera.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: The evidence shows us that it is going to make our streets safer.
Mr. Marco D’Angelo: Reducing speed makes streets safer. The camera on its own: It depends how motorists take it, but certainly reducing speeds reduces the severity of collisions.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: As we are advancing this bill, the government is pleased to see that we have the NDP’s support on this. The Conservatives have voted against it. They stand against Bill 65 and, in fact, they stand against the community safety piece on this. So here you have an opportunity to speak directly to them. What would you say about Bill 65?
Mr. Marco D’Angelo: What I would say is that in terms of “community safety zones,” we acknowledged during our presentation today that it is a term that does need greater definition. It certainly could benefit from it. It’s difficult to come up with what that would be because, on the one hand, we want to give municipalities the flexibility to designate an area a community safety zone, but on the other hand, we want to make sure that whole municipalities or something big and broad like a neighbourhood would be all a community safety zone. We want to have some way to define it.
We’ve provided the suggestion that the municipality document the precise safety concerns in the proposed zone and what they’ve tried to do to reduce speeds before they’ve declared it a community safety zone. We’ve asked for council to at least create a report documenting all the remedial steps they’ve taken in advance of calling it a community safety zone. And just because you call it a community safety zone doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a camera there, but certainly we recommend that as a clarification of the definition.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Mr. D’Angelo, for coming before committee this afternoon and sharing your thoughts.
Ward 5 traffic safety committee of Newmarket
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next, we have on the agenda Ms. Nancy Fish, chair of the Ward 5 traffic safety committee of Newmarket. All members have the handout here, which I—
Mr. Mike Colle: Do we get a T-shirt or what?
Ms. Nancy Fish: I paid for this out of my own dollars, so we’ll see. I’m a volunteer.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): The floor is yours. You have up to six minutes. Welcome.
Ms. Nancy Fish: Thank you, honourable committee members, for allowing me to speak today. I am here today in support of the legislation. My name is Nancy Fish. I am chair of the Ward 5 traffic safety committee in Newmarket. As such, I have been a vocal proponent for traffic safety in our town.
Today, I would like to tell you about the dangerous driving situation in Newmarket and why we need your help in supporting Bill 65.
In 2013, my colleague Bob Kwapis and I launched a “slow down” campaign in Newmarket. This was in response to the increased speeding and dangerous driving on our streets. With the help of vivaNext, which was performing major construction in town, and the town, we acquired lawn signs. This was before the unfortunate, tragic death of Georgia Walsh in Leaside in July 2014. We put most of the signs on my street, which had become a veritable speedway due to the major construction by vivaNext on Davis Drive. The response by drivers was immediate: Everybody slowed down. Our York Regional Police contacts stated that it had been the most effective traffic campaign they had ever seen.
Going forward, we targeted schools and arranged for signs throughout the town. It was so successful that signs went missing and turned up in towns such as Markham, Keswick and Sutton. We were very successful in waking up the town to the danger of speeding and also successfully pressed the town to create a traffic mitigation plan for our municipality.
All of this sounds wonderful, but the fact is that the signs lost their effectiveness. The town has worked on its traffic mitigation plan, but capital costs for re-engineering roads and/or adding speed bumps have hindered its advancement. People are not slowing down.
One of the top concerns among the citizenry of Newmarket is speeding, yet many people do not slow down unless it’s on their own street. People are so time-deprived now that aggressive driving has become the norm. Those speeding are not just young kids; they are dads coming home from work, they’re soccer moms, they’re people going to appointments—they’re “everyman.”
Unfortunately, these drivers do not seem to be aware of the real dangers their speeding poses to pedestrians, seniors, other vehicles and, most importantly, our children. On my street, which has a 40-kilometre speed limit, drivers are going 20 to 40 kilometres over the limit—20 kilometres over the speed limit is 50% over the speed limit, and 40 kilometres over the speed limit is twice the limit. These are dangerous drivers.
As a seasoned driver, both on highways and in town, I don’t see people slowing down unless they see a police car. When they do, they hit their brakes quickly. Why? Because they don’t want a ticket and they don’t want to lose demerit points. We cannot have police officers on every street. It’s not an effective use of their time. Beyond physically redesigning our roads to slow down drivers, which is cost-prohibitive—and in a recent CBC News article regarding speed mitigation in Ottawa, the reporter cited the following costs: speed bumps, $8,000 to $10,000 each; street narrowing, $50,000; a raised intersection, $150,000. So beyond that, and without automated speed enforcement systems, these may be the only way to modify and correct dangerous behaviour before someone is hurt or, worse, killed. This is an issue that has grown beyond what municipalities can do.
Some argue that automated speed enforcement systems are not effective, or that they penalize the wrong person. I beg to differ. If I received a speeding ticket in the mail, it would affect my driving. I would be filled with remorse and embarrassment that I had broken the law with my dangerous action. Added to this, I don’t have unlimited funds to pay traffic fines.
I also believe that if drivers know that automated speed enforcement systems are in the area, they will slow down. The results might be intangible. For example, one cannot easily count how many drivers will vow to slow down and change their driving habits. As a result, it’s even harder to discern the probabilities of accidents avoided. But these intangible results will exist.
Another argument I hear is that automated speed enforcement systems are cash cows. Again, I disagree. The money garnered through these systems should go back into municipalities’ budgets to fund traffic mitigation projects, as well as automated speed enforcement systems.
Newmarket has over 15 elementary schools and a number of senior citizens’ areas. Just last week, I read a long and heated discussion on Facebook about cars speeding in many of our elementary zones, creating very dangerous situations. Beyond automated speed enforcement systems, fatalities or severe injuries may be the only mechanism to change dangerous driving. We must protect our children and our seniors.
Let’s remember Georgia Walsh, who was killed in 2014; the nine-year-old boy crossing at a crosswalk on Sheppard Avenue in March 2017; the six-year-old boy from Morrish Public School in Scarborough killed on April 21, 2017; and last Friday, the 10-year-old schoolgirl who was hit on Seward Drive in Ajax.
I urge you to support this life-saving legislation. Thank you very much for your attention.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Ms. Fish. We now move to the government. Ms. Hoggarth.
Ms. Ann Hoggarth: Thank you very much for your hard work in this area.
As a former teacher, I can tell you that my school is on a very busy street in Barrie. We do have the flashing speed sign, and it is completely disregarded. The only time that anyone paid attention was just about on every first day of school, when the police are there and they do a public media announcement. Actually, two teachers from our school got fined that day. Teachers would be very much distraught if they hit a child—they’re just not thinking.
I believe that if people were fined every day that they do that, they would stop. When you hit people in the pocketbooks, that’s unfortunately what happens. Speed bumps—they have them on my street; they just go faster over them and think it’s a thrill. They are not of any consequence to anyone.
Would you elaborate on the results of your road safety campaigns and what you learned about speeding in your community? I love your signs, by the way. Some of our councillors in Barrie have put them up. They’re all different, but they had their names on them and were told they had to take them off because what they were doing it for was to get votes.
Ms. Nancy Fish: Oh, okay.
Ms. Ann Hoggarth: So I like yours, because there is no political involvement whatsoever.
Could you please tell me what you learned about speeding in your community?
Ms. Nancy Fish: The results that we saw were fairly immediate on any street that people went down. People had never seen signs such as these before in their lives, and so they just hit the brakes. Then we also in the next few years have gone to farmers’ markets, we’ve gone to schools, we’ve gone to different community events, and we reiterate the value in driving safely. But it just seems that the effectiveness of these signs is not long-standing. It loses its lustre. People stop seeing them. That’s unfortunately the result of it.
Ms. Ann Hoggarth: Did you find that speed bumps worked?
Ms. Nancy Fish: There are some speed bumps in town, but when we go to town generally and ask for traffic mitigation structures such as that, we’re told they don’t have the budget for it.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: How much time is there?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Twenty seconds.
Ms. Daiene Vernile: Margaret Lupton, who is the mayor of Zorra township, put in speed bumps and she told me they’re a joke, it didn’t work. A man went up to her in Tim Horton’s, pointed out the door at his big black truck and said to her, the mayor, “I can still take these speed bumps at 110 kilometres per hour,” laughed at her and walked out. So she said, “The speed bumps don’t work, Daiene. We need automated speed enforcement.”
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We’ll move to the official opposition. Ms. Munro.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Thank you very much for being here. My first question falls in the same category of the previous questions in that as you look back on what you had done in Newmarket—certainly I think more aggressive than most of the other communities in York region—is there one that you would promote if you had a limitless budget? Is there anything that you see as being a better step forward for us?
Ms. Nancy Fish: The only thing beyond the automated systems would be re-engineering of the roads. For example, mine is a straightaway and people are taking it—they’re cutting across town because of construction or because of other busy streets, so you’d have to snake my street, and the cost of redoing my street would just be cost-prohibitive.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Right, right. Representing a different part of York region, my experience is that when you do have the reduced speed zones, like going through Virginia on Highway 48, or part of Pefferlaw—any of those areas—people are practically climbing into my trunk, because they just want to ignore those speed limit signs. It’s very difficult to be able to even do it yourself, in terms of the speed that people are using.
But that’s why I wanted to also compliment you on the signage. I realized, when you said it sort of peaked in terms of effectiveness, that a reminder like that is important. Other jurisdictions I’ve seen have actually posted where fatalities have taken place. It’s also a sobering reminder that this is the danger, this is the risk.
Ms. Nancy Fish: Yes. Thank you.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Hi, how are you?
Ms. Nancy Fish: Good, thank you.
Mr. Wayne Gates: It’s nice to see a volunteer here who took some action, incredible action. I’ll go through some of your presentation.
I used to be a city councillor in Niagara Falls. Lawn signs work for a little bit, and then they kind of fade away. Speed bumps cost a lot of money, and they’re hard to get done, quite frankly. To my Liberal colleague: Trucks usually don’t slow down on them anyway; they can ride it out and make that noise.
But one thing that really bugs me on this whole thing is, this should be a debate about what’s going to save lives, what’s going to save young kids, six years old, like you said, from losing their lives when they had their whole life in front of them—or a 10-year-old losing their life. If this is going to help, why wouldn’t we do it?
What you do with the money—reinvest it into better road safety, more education, whatever—however we decide to do that, at the end of the day, this is, “Okay, is it going to work and save lives?” The answer is yes.
For any party to say, “Well, no, this is nothing more than a cash cow”—I actually take offence, as an MPP. I know I don’t look it, but I have a daughter and I have five grandkids—
Mr. Mike Colle: No.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I have five grandkids, all from age 12 down.
My wife was a teacher. My daughter is a current teacher, and she has told me about those things you talked about—the near misses, where kids have almost gotten killed.
If we’re going to slow people down, then we should be doing this.
People like yourself—I can’t say enough about what you’ve done. I’m sure it’s not just you; I’m sure you had a team with you. But you saw that something in your community was wrong: “How can we address it?”—quite frankly, without a lot of help from government.
Now you have an opportunity to get some help from government. It has taken us a while, and that’s fair, quite frankly, on these bills, the way they work. But at the end of the day, you now have some help from government.
It’s not a cash cow. I think if we’re going to argue this, it should be argued over one way and one way only: Is it going to save lives? Answer that question.
Ms. Nancy Fish: Yes, absolutely.
Mr. Wayne Gates: The answer, to me, is yes. How we get there, what we have to put in place to make sure that it works, that it’s fair, that it’s balanced for everybody—I think that’s fair. But to say it’s a cash cow—I don’t know how anybody can even argue that. Go ask one of the parents who lost one of those kids if they think this would be a cash cow.
I just want to say thank you very much for what you’re doing. I love volunteers. You do it for all the right reasons. You’re not doing it to get paid. You’re not doing it for any other reason than because you have the heart and the passion to make it better for your community. I just wanted to compliment you for doing that and for being here today.
Ms. Nancy Fish: Thank you very much.
Mr. Wayne Gates: My pleasure.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Ms. Fish, for coming before committee this afternoon and sharing your thoughts.
Ms. Jennifer Arp Mr. Frank D’Amico
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next on the agenda, we have Jennifer Arp, who is ward trustee for Eglinton-Lawrence, Toronto District School Board—welcome—and Frank D’Amico, ward 6 trustee, Toronto Catholic District School Board. We welcome the two of you to committee this afternoon and look forward to your presentations. You have up to six minutes, followed by three minutes of questioning. Welcome.
Ms. Jennifer Arp: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): You’re welcome.
Ms. Jennifer Arp: Thank you again for the opportunity to speak today regarding Bill 65. I’m here today not only as trustee, but as a mother of two boys who walk to and from school every day. As a family, we believe that walking to school is not only a great way to get some exercise before needing to focus in the classroom, but also it’s an opportunity for children to be independent. Whenever I can, I walk my children in the morning; however, they walk home on their own in the afternoon.
Our morning walk takes us past a very busy intersection where there are a Catholic elementary school and Catholic high school next to each other. There is a crossing guard; however, this intersection is not very safe. Drivers are extremely impatient, do not wait their turn, and are often entering the intersection even before the crossing guard and the children have cleared. These schools are not on a major road. The congestion is caused by parents dropping their children off.
The street that our school, Joyce Public School, is on has no sidewalks, and because of a city park, the school is actually set quite far back from the road. If you did not know the neighbourhood, you would have no idea that there is a school on the street. Drivers speed down the road—not only parents dropping their children off, but others who are trying to avoid traffic on either Lawrence or Caledonia avenues.
We have almost been hit by drivers multiple times. Two winters ago, on a rare day that we didn’t walk, my husband was rear-ended pulling into the school parking lot by a distracted driver.
In another area of Eglinton-Lawrence, the students at Ledbury Park public school have worked very hard to educate their classmates and parents on the importance of active transportation and road safety as part of their EcoSchools initiatives. Despite that, last month, a student was hit by a car while he was crossing the road in front of the school. Thankfully, he only had minor injuries.
I know that earlier this week you heard from parents and the principal from Allenby public school, but I would like to emphasize the great risk to children and families in this neighbourhood, and the number of traffic incidents that occur weekly because of its location on Avenue Road.
But these are all minor issues compared to what happened last Friday in Scarborough, outside of Morrish Public School. I’m sure that all of you are aware that a child was hit by a car outside of the school and, sadly, died of his injuries. While this was a very tragic accident, it highlights the need for any extra controls that we can put in place to ensure that our children are protected as they travel to and from school.
I would like to emphasize the importance of ensuring that municipalities and school boards are included as part of the conversation going forward. Each area of the province is unique. In many rural areas, there are schools on highways, and the issue is the speed at which cars are passing schools. In larger urban areas, like Toronto, we talk about congestion. With 580 schools in the TDSB alone, it is impossible for all of our school zones to be monitored properly, currently. Often, it’s the principals, working with their trustee and superintendent, who are left trying to figure out how to make the area around their school safe.
Bill 65 proposes changes that will affect many groups: child care centres, school-aged children, parents, teachers and grandparents. Community engagement is essential to make sure that the proposed changes are understood. However, I do believe that having reduced speeds and photo radar in these areas will help encourage drivers to be more aware of the presence of children in these neighbourhoods.
In the TDSB, we are proud to have adopted an active transportation charter, and schools are encouraged to complete safety audits to identify potential concerns in their neighbourhoods. This aligns with many comments made by the city of Toronto’s chief planner, Jennifer Keesmaat. Students should be travelling to and from school in an active way, and it is our responsibility to do everything possible to ensure that our children are able to do that in a safe way. It should not have to take a student being killed or injured to shed light on this issue.
I believe that Bill 65 is an important step in the right direction to making school zones safer.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. Mr. D’Amico.
Mr. Frank D’Amico: Thank you for having me here today. I am fully supportive of Bill 65, the Safer School Zones Act. If passed, the MTO will lead consultations with impacted stakeholders to develop policy. I look forward to these talks.
Municipalities need stronger tools to keep our local roads safer, having access to new measures to improve safety on our roads. These measures allow municipalities to implement automated speed enforcement technology on municipal roads, create zones with reduced speed limits to decrease the severity of pedestrian-vehicle collisions in urban areas, and participate in red light camera programs easier.
I’m particularly happy that all three parties support this bill.
I’ve had talks with one person who was saying to me that these photo radars do not stop the injuries. But somebody did mention that it does change the behaviour of the people who drive, and it will sharply reduce deaths of not only the children but the people who bring the children to and from schools.
One death is too many deaths. So I’m here today with the public school trustee to show my support, as well, for this bill.
I received an email from the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association that they could not make it here today, because they have a conference. However, they are monitoring this as well, and they might offer some input in the future.
Thank you very much for having me here today.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We shall start with the official opposition. Ms. Munro.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Thank you very much. Certainly, I think we all share the concerns that you have raised in this discussion. It seems that even though we have collectively come up with tools and signs and things like that, it really comes down to the driver and what decisions they’ve made in going too quickly or turning corners without looking, and things like that.
In your efforts to make a safer neighbourhood around your schools, is there any particular tool that you would see as more effective than others?
Mr. Frank D’Amico: In my area, I’ve had some complaints at a few different schools, and it’s mostly about the congestion in front of the schools, usually at the front doors, where the parents will be dropping them off. Some schools have managed to have a kiss-and-ride program, where they just drive through and drop off the kids. You do get a few parents who might not want to wait in line and just speed up and go around it.
In another area, they all want me to call the police. The police can’t be everywhere, right?
Mrs. Julia Munro: No.
Mr. Frank D’Amico: I understand that. I’ve spoken with 13 Division. They’ll try to go to a school here and there, but not all the time.
I have another school where people will park and block other people from leaving their driveways, so they can’t get to work. They’re trying to get out, and they’re calling their trustee, saying, “Hey, clear out the school.” It’s not really my issue. You should be calling the city councillor to do that.
But at the end of the day, it affects the parents of the students at the schools. We represent them as well, as trustees.
In another area, at Loretto College, we have special education students who go into their bus—the bus parks on the left side of the road. So when they enter from the right of the bus—the students in the wheelchairs—cars are just flying by; they don’t stop. We try getting the police to come there. I’ve actually witnessed that. I’ve been to the school, and I’ve actually stopped, and the car behind me was honking at me; they were yelling at me. The bus driver lady had to yell at the driver. He said, “Oh, I didn’t see the stop sign.” That’s another issue there.
In some areas, there’s a speed limit sign that says the speed limit is 40, and it’s going right into an intersection. We have to look at these and say, “Why do you need a speed limit of 40, going right into an intersection?” There’s a school there.
You’ll see all the school buses parked along the side, and there are other vehicles parked on the side, and there’s hardly any room to get through. So why would you want to be going 30 kilometres an hour, or 40? It’s common sense that there are kids in the area, and even seniors. A lot of seniors bring the kids to the school because the parents are working or whatever. There are nannies as well who might be bringing the kids to school.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you.
Mr. Frank D’Amico: Anyway, I hope that was helpful.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We’ll move to Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Thanks for coming. I certainly appreciate it. I think I’m going to correct you on one of the comments that you made. You said that all three parties support the bill.
Mr. Frank D’Amico: I meant in some aspects, with the safe schools.
Mr. Wayne Gates: You either support it or you don’t support it. When you get a vote, you either stand up or you sit down, one or the other. There’s no—you can’t be—I almost said something I shouldn’t, so I’ll just let that go. You can’t be half whatever; you’re either one or the other. They didn’t support it. The Liberals supported it unanimously. The NDP have supported it unanimously. The PCs, in the debate that I participated in and listened to, said it’s a cash cow. It drives me nuts, because this bill—although we have to do some work around it, and that’s fair and that’s reasonable, because we’ve been doing this bill and we have a couple of other bills to go along with it—will save lives. That’s the bottom line.
You talked very clearly about a young—I’m not sure if it was a boy or a girl—
Ms. Jennifer Arp: It was a boy.
Mr. Wayne Gates: A six-year-old gets killed going to school, which should be the safest place in their world. Do you know what that did? Not only did it hurt the community, it ruined two families: the family that had that tragic death and the father, who was dropping his kid off, who hit him. Think about that.
To me, you can’t say, “Oh, I support some of it, but I don’t support all of it.” You either support the bill or you don’t support the bill—period. I don’t know how anybody cannot support making sure our kids and our grandkids are safe in school, particularly on some of the main roads that this is happening to.
I listened to that principal yesterday—and I know I’m doing a bit of a speech here—but it was all I could do not to cry, because of the heart and the passion and the hurt that she felt in her heart.
I’ll just ask one question: How many trustees do you have?
Ms. Jennifer Arp: At the TDSB, there are 22.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Okay. And all 22 support the bill?
Ms. Jennifer Arp: We haven’t officially debated the motion; however, we are discussing it at our next health and mental well-being committee.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Okay, I appreciate that. Thanks very much.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We shall move to the government. Mr. Colle.
Mr. Mike Colle: Thank you for coming. Jennifer is one of my trustees, and Mr. D’Amico is a neighbouring trustee. I know your areas well. I represented them for a number of years.
One of the things that drives me nuts is if you look at cars today, they’ve got six to eight cameras in the car. Yet they say, “We don’t want a camera for safety to protect kids.” But they’re all in favour of all of these cars having cameras all over the place. In fact, you can get a camera now that records everything you do—everything. But, anyway, this is what’s crazy.
Then they say the cash cow thing. It’s funny. What price are you going to put on that situation that happened in Scarborough just recently, or the kid in Leaside? I want to see the Conservatives stand up and say that they’re going to vote against this bill again, because they think it’s going to cause one of these speedsters to get a ticket and have to pay for a ticket to speed in a school zone, and that that’s okay.
Then they say, “Well, you never know who’s driving, therefore, you can’t give them a ticket.” I heard this when we started to do the red light cameras. They said the same stuff. They said, “Well, you never know who the driver is, and you can’t give a ticket to the licence plate.” Well, if you’re irresponsible enough to give your car to someone who’s going to speed through a school zone, you deserve a ticket. Who did you give the car to? Who did you give your truck to, who was so irresponsible that they drove a school zone and broke the speed limit?
As you know, Trustee Arp, we have a horrendous situation on Avenue Road, which is like a major highway running through the city of Toronto, with Allenby school, where it’s Russian roulette every day. I was glad that the teachers’ council came here and the principal came here to alert us to the need to do something not only on Avenue Road, but with all of these schools that are on major streets. Do you want to speak about Allenby and what’s happening?
Ms. Jennifer Arp: Allenby is a constant problem. Part of the problem with Allenby is that the parking lot is separated from the school, and there are not enough spots in the parking lot even for the teachers. The parking lot can’t be used as a drop-off because it only opens from one end.
What happens is that you’ve got people trying to get to work, speeding down Avenue Road; you’ve got an intersection on one end of the school that has a light and another one a block away; and then all of these parents trying to get to school. It’s a very large, busy school. It’s at 120% capacity. You’ve got 700 to 800 kids and families trying to get there every day, and it’s not safe.
Mr. Mike Colle: Yes, and they’re trying to beat the lights.
Ms. Jennifer Arp: And they’re trying to beat the lights.
Mr. Mike Colle: So people coming north, they’re trying to get through Eglinton to beat the light there on Briar Hill, and going south they’re trying to beat the light to get to Eglinton. In fact, there was a young man, 23 years old, who was speeding down, going north on Avenue Road, just north of Eglinton—I think it was at Briar Hill—and ran right into the side of a building, speeding, in the middle of the day.
Ms. Jennifer Arp: And a number of years ago there were two teachers hit, as well, on Avenue Road.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): I’d like to thank Ms. Arp and Mr. D’Amico for coming before our committee this afternoon and sharing your thoughts. It’s much appreciated.
Mr. Frank D’Amico: Thank you.
Ms. Jennifer Arp: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Have a great afternoon.
Ontario Trucking Association
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next, from the Ontario Trucking Association, we have the president with us, Mr. Stephen Laskowski.
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: You got it.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): With a tie that matches the handout.
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: The green.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Yes, very nice.
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: It’s the OTA green.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Good. We welcome you, sir. You have up to six minutes.
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: Thank you very much. Thank you all for being here today, and thanks for the opportunity.
Bill 65’s intent to allow municipalities to introduce photo radar technology in school and community safety zones is a measure that will no doubt improve road safety by reducing collisions, as well as improving pedestrian safety on high-risk municipal roads.
While OTA supports the overall intent of Bill 65, the association would like to address two main elements of the bill: the first related to the definition of community safety zones and the second related to the issuance of fines.
On the first point, OTA believes the current definition of “community safety zone” is too broad, and the association would encourage the government to establish a more rigorous set of classifications, based on available data, to ensure consistency. As OTA understands the rule, a municipal council, through the bylaw process, could arbitrarily designate a roadway under its jurisdiction to be a community safety zone if, in the council’s opinion, “public safety is of special concern.”
While several municipalities, rightly, today define community safety zone roadways as those near schools, daycare centres, playgrounds, hospitals and senior citizens’ residences, the definition can also be extended to include “collision-prone areas within a community.” I want to make that distinction. OTA has no objections to daycares, schools, hospitals etc. The issue we want to discuss with the committee today is collision-prone areas. OTA believes the latter characterization is largely open to interpretation and vulnerable, quite frankly, to political decisions. OTA would ask that the Standing Committee on General Government recommend bolstering the definition of a “collision-prone area” so that it is based on evidence and actual collision rates.
Who pays? OTA is supportive of enforcement policies that ensure all vehicles are operating at posted speed limits. Along with training, good fleet management practices and the use of technology, monetary penalties are an effective way to discourage unsafe behaviour.
However, in the case of photo radar and commercial vehicles, the fine is issued to the owner of the vehicle, who may not be the driver who committed the violation. Consequently, photo radar would do little to alter the behaviour of commercial drivers and would likely not be viewed as a deterrent unless applied to the actual violator.
Furthermore, if speeding violations are not assigned to drivers and subsequently shown on the driver’s commercial vehicle operating record, the ability of trucking companies to manage the safety risk associated with making their new hires could be compromised.
OTA therefore suggests the government establish a mechanism in which the driver of a commercial vehicle, who may not the owner of the vehicle, becomes the direct recipient of photo radar-detected speeding violations. I think this is a clear distinction between commercial drivers and passenger vehicles. What we’re saying here is that photo radar is a good resource to improve public safety. For commercial vehicle operators, we want to work with the government to ensure that those tickets are assigned to the violators to get the maximum impact of this rule. We’re not opposing this rule. We’re saying you could make this even more effective if we work together to make sure that commercial vehicle drivers who are actually the violators—that it appears on their CVOR.
Thank you for the opportunity, and I welcome questions.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Mr. President. We shall start with the NDP. Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Hey, how are you?
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: I’m great.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Good. Listen, we’ve heard a lot about the community safety zones, and how it’s going to work, where it’s going to work, and some of the ones that you mentioned around schools and playgrounds and stuff.
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: It’s a no-brainer.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I’m sure the committee is going to have a lot of conversation around that particular issue on a go-forward basis.
What I’m interested in is the “Furthermore” on your presentation. Do you have it or do you know it? Do I have to read it? Do you want—
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: If speeding violations are not assigned to drivers?
Mr. Wayne Gates: Yes, that, and the second part of it: “the ability of trucking companies to manage the safety risk associated with making new hires could be compromised.” Maybe explain that. I think when you read that, it’s not really clear to somebody who’s maybe following in Hansard or trying to get an idea of where we’re at on it. I think it’s an interesting one that I picked up on in my minute and a half, that I had to read before you started to talk.
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: In trucking companies, obviously, when you’re hiring a driver, you’re not just hiring someone to drive your truck; you’re entrusting somebody with a commercial vehicle, to operate it safely. You’re going to do that by informed decision-making. Any new driver who is hired by a trucking company brings with them—call it your report card. It’s their CVOR record. It contains all their moving violations.
What we’re saying is, whether you receive a ticket through photo radar or through the normal means, through an enforcement officer, the more information a trucking company has, the better off we are at improving safety.
If there is a driver who is removed from a company because they are receiving photo radar tickets, they move on. They may go to another company, and there is no means for that company to check on their public record if they’re a safety violator.
What we’re saying here is, let’s maximize the ability of the trucking industry to enforce safety. Let’s know, in public records, if these people are speeders. If they are speeding, what do we know from the safety records?
Speeding, or driving too fast for conditions, leads to fatal collisions, and we want to avoid that. This is what the intent of this bill is.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Yes, the whole bill is about speeding.
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: Absolutely.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I’m clear on it. Say I’m driving for you—Wayne Gates drives for you. I get caught with photo radar. It shows up at John’s trucking company.
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: Correct.
Mr. Wayne Gates: The owner is the guy who is responsible for that, right?
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: Correct.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I get another ticket, and the owner says, “You know what, Gatesy? You gotta go.”
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: You gotta go.
Mr. Wayne Gates: “You gotta go.” Then I can go to Fred’s trucking company and say, “Hey, I’m a good truck driver,” and unless they do a check with the last guy I worked for, it’s showing that I’ve got a good driving record. Is that it?
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: Correct. That is correct.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Okay, I’ve got it. I think that’s something we should discuss.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I need another 30 seconds.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Final comment.
Mr. Wayne Gates: No, I’m good. That’s all right.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Okay. Thank you very much. We’ll move to the government. Mr. Colle.
Mr. Mike Colle: Thank you for the good presentation.
On the collision-prone areas, I agree with you that there have to be—and I think the CAA mentioned it—clearer definitions on what they can be.
The only thing I worry about is, there are municipalities where—like our good councillor friend Bob Kwapis from Newmarket said, municipalities know best where the danger spots are. They’ll get their complaints, and they know this blind turn. We’ve got to give them that kind of respect to say, “You’ve got to be able to select an area.” It might not be in a school area, but it’s a dead man’s curve. We all have them in all of our municipalities.
But I agree with you that there should be parameters, because they just can’t decide. There should be a requirement for data from the police department, or whatever it is. Do you want to comment on that?
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: I respect that comment, Mike. For example, as early as last week, the OTA put out a public position asking the city of Thunder Bay, should this bill be passed, to introduce a community safety zone in a historic stretch of roadway that would allow them to force all traffic, not commercial traffic—it’s a 20-year problem. Everyone knows it’s a problem. We support that.
However, Mike, I can also see situations—I’ll just leave it at that—where certain areas become politicized. Yes, there was an incident, but is it backed by some form of data?
Mr. Mike Colle: Yes, it’s got to be backed by data and research.
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: Some form of data.
Mr. Mike Colle: Yes, I’ve been there and been in those things.
The second thing is, I think it’s an important point you brought, about if the driver then goes to a new company. What do you do with red light camera violators in your company right now? What do you do with them?
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: It’s a labour issue. To transfer the cost of a photo radar, red light—however you want to label it, is a difficult issue. It’s an internal HR issue and it’s a labour issue. That is why we’re asking the government for assistance on an industry-wide basis—to show up on their driver’s abstract. There are ways to deal with it internally, but they are difficult and they require legal finagling.
Mr. Mike Colle: It’s very complex.
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: It is.
Mr. Mike Colle: And time-consuming.
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: It’s not just time. It involves a lot of legalities and HR issues. What we’re saying here is: There may be ability to just immediately transfer onto their driver CVOR, and then it’s captured and everyone is held accountable.
Mr. Mike Colle: Yes, and then that’s able to be passed on if they go to another workplace.
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: It will make it very difficult if there is—I can tell you this: The trucking industry and its owners and its management take speeding very seriously.
Mr. Mike Colle: That’s why you have the limiters on the trucks.
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: Absolutely.
Mr. Mike Colle: By the way, that has been a great safety feature. I think it’s one of the best things that has happened in the last 50 years. I used to drive along the 401 and the transport trucks would knock me right off the road. But I think that was a good technological addition that really helped make it safe for the driver and for the—
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: OTA strongly supports the use of technology.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): The official opposition: Mr. Harris.
Mr. Michael Harris: Steve, good afternoon and thanks for coming. We definitely know that the industry is all about ensuring that not only the drivers but the cargo get to where they need to be in a safe manner. How would you suggest that we—and perhaps, if you’ve looked at other jurisdictions—go about ensuring that the perpetrator who commits the offence is given a ticket? Any suggestions in terms of how that actually would happen?
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: It is difficult and will require the co-operation of the Ministry of Transportation. It may require some systems changes; it may require some investment on the part of the government. What would be very helpful is if this committee unanimously said, “Let’s try and crack this nut. Is there a way to do this?” I think it would help OTA and it would help with dealing with the ministry.
Mr. Michael Harris: You also highlight another concern that I think we’ve heard over and over. One of our main concerns is what a community safety zone is. Of course, there is no such definition within the Highway Traffic Act as it stands. How would you specifically lay out a definition or give us advice on how we should prescribe what that actually looks like?
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: I think it all comes down to data, and it’s difficult. I think Mike Colle brought up the issue of: Sometimes the art of politics and policy involves data and just common knowledge, and we’re aware of this. But I also know that many municipalities, especially larger ones, have access to data in terms of collision data and reports, and they know where the hot spots are statistically. We’re saying: If that data is available, let’s use it. Let’s use it to identify—there are common-sense areas for community safety zones. Many municipalities, I mentioned in my opening remarks, have gone that way, whether they’re schools, retirement homes etc., where there are vulnerabilities.
Then we get to the other areas outside what we’ll call collision-prone areas. We all live and grew up in areas—we know them. There should be data involved in there. I think these are the areas that are no-brainers. I think it’s just a common-sense approach and what I’ll call a general guidance document for municipalities, because you do want to avoid situations where the use of this legislation becomes politicized.
Mr. Michael Harris: And quickly, because in some cases a transport truck—you’d have a trailer owned by someone different than the actual tractor; right?
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: Yes.
Mr. Michael Harris: So how is the industry talking about managing that?
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: We have, over time, because of the previous legislation—the trailer leasing companies—it will be a challenge for our industry, but I think that once the legislation becomes known, it will be reintroduced into the contracts as to how to deal with it and how reverse charges work. I think our main concern about it is really to try to maximize the safety benefit of this and to ensure that violations somehow end up on the drivers’ abstracts.
Mr. Michael Harris: Thanks, Steve. I appreciate it.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you, Mr. President, for coming before committee this afternoon. We much appreciated you sharing your insights.
Mr. Stephen Laskowski: Thanks very much, folks.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): You’re welcome.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next on the agenda: From Walk Toronto we have Ms. Maureen Coyle, who is a member of the steering committee. We welcome you to committee this afternoon and to Queen’s Park. You have up to six minutes for your presentation.
Ms. Maureen Coyle: Thank you very much. I represent my colleagues on the steering committee of Walk Toronto, which is an advocacy group focused on the creation of safe, equitable and accessible uses of public spaces, which fosters a walking culture in the city—as a recognized form of transportation.
We at Walk Toronto would like to offer a submission on Bill 65 for your consideration. We’re encouraged that the Legislature is considering a bill to help create safer streets by holding unsafe drivers accountable and by enacting specific steps to protect schoolchildren and elders. The proposals in Bill 65 are innovations that we know, from available data, have a positive impact on road safety in North America and elsewhere.
We urge you to use Bill 65 to allow municipalities to reduce speed limits and to remove restrictions on the use of safety cameras to curtail speeding and driving through red lights. Children, older people, people with disabilities, people using assistive devices for mobility—in fact, all people—are pedestrians. All people use our roadways, and not simply the areas near schools, hospitals and residential care facilities.
In 2016, we saw among the highest pedestrian deaths this century in Toronto, with 43 deaths on the road—46 when you include private parking areas like malls, for example, which are not covered under the Highway Traffic Act and which are not kept in police statistics. There were an additional 39 people reported killed—pedestrians, specifically—on OPP-enforced roadways. The data from other municipalities for 2016 are not readily available to the public at this point. However, in the first nine years of this century, Toronto, Mississauga, Hamilton and Ottawa together accounted for almost 500 pedestrian fatalities.
For a variety of reasons, accurate data on the numbers of serious injuries are not available or collected in any accurate form anywhere in this province, which is a significant problem especially when you’re quantifying, when you’re coming down to creating cost analyses, of who benefits and how, and who’s responsible and how.
Each death or serious injury of a vulnerable road user is preventable.
Among the proposed inclusions to the Safer School Zones Act that we are heartened to see are the provisions to reduce vehicular speed in school zones and the use of safety cameras to enforce speed limits and to curtail other high-risk driving behaviours. Bill 65 agrees with recommendations from the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario resulting from a review of 2010 data on pedestrian deaths in Toronto: a reduction of default speed limits, the enforcement of road safety measures, and changes in infrastructure to make our roads slower and safer.
Lower speeds are proven to reduce fatalities of pedestrians and other vulnerable road users. The survivability of an impact with a vehicle increases with a corresponding decrease in vehicular speed. The Chief Coroner’s report notes, “There is a well-established impact of vehicle speed on death, where,”—quoting Rosen et al.—“‘the fatality risk at 50 km/hr being more than twice as high as the risk at 40 km/hr and more than five times higher than the risk at 30 km/hr.’”
This committee has already heard that the use of safety cameras to enforce road safety legislation will be disparaged as a cash grab. Based on experiences in other jurisdictions in Europe and North America, public acceptance for these measures is attainable through clear communication of the goals of the strategy and a demonstration that revenues generated through enforcement will support ongoing safety measures, including re-engineering of streets to make them safer, particularly those hot spots we were just talking about. The significant decrease in speeding in the first months of the installation of safety cameras in New York demonstrates their value very clearly, at a 60% reduction.
To allow short-sighted, reactive rhetoric of the cash grab to become the dominant narrative of road safety is to sideline the significant economic arguments in support of the measures proposed in Bill 65. The savings to health care systems that result from active transportation will reap more savings than fines will generate.
A report from Toronto Public Health in 2012 stated: “Savings in direct health care costs arising from current levels of Toronto residents staying active by walking or cycling and averting chronic illness are estimated to result in reduced health care spending of $110 million to $160 million ... In terms of indirect costs, if estimates of lost productivity or the economic value of a life are included” in the cost of chronic illness “the total economic benefits of active transportation in Toronto range from $130 million to $478 million.”
On the other hand, a conservative estimate of costs of road fatalities puts the burden on the city of Toronto at $600 million. The fines generated through electronic enforcement is not a cash grab; it is a fraction of the economic costs of pedestrian deaths and serious injury—which, in turn, does nothing to recognize the impact on communities and families when a death or serious injury results from road violence.
We ask you to use Bill 65 to extend protections to vulnerable road users across Ontario and to end the deaths and serious injuries on our streets.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We shall start with the official opposition. Mr. Harris.
Mr. Michael Harris: You noted a chief coroner’s report. I’m just wondering if it is a specific follow-up to incidents, or—do you want to give me some more information? I would just like to reference some of these things.
Ms. Maureen Coyle: The reference is actually in the package that I gave you, so you’re able to look up the original documents on your own. There was a request from community-based groups for the coroner to look into pedestrian deaths the year preceding, in 2010. That was undertaken from January 1 to December 31 of 2010, looking at the circumstances: who was killed, where they were killed, how they were killed, what they were doing when they were killed, what the road conditions were like, what their health status was—everything that could be thought of was examined in that—
Mr. Michael Harris: What were some of the major findings, I suppose, in terms of what led to—was it a variety of different factors, like distracted driving and impaired driving? Without going to the report right now myself, perhaps you’d share with the committee the top five, perhaps, if you actually have them.
Ms. Maureen Coyle: The top five, which I actually do have here, were speed, at number one; distraction was another. There was a report with a caveat. In one case, there was a report—I think it was number three on the list of five—that indicated that pedestrians being in intersections after their limit had expired was an issue, but the caveat on that was that that was driver-reported and there was conflicting information coming from other observers. It was based on the data that was collected. Toronto police do not collect all of the data on distraction.
One of the inclusions in that list of references is the National Security Council in the US—which is an examination of exactly why that data has not yet been tracked.
Mr. Michael Harris: Should photo radar be extended to highways?
Ms. Maureen Coyle: I’m sorry?
Mr. Michael Harris: Should photo radar be extended to have on highways, or should it be focused on more school areas and streets? I’m just wondering what your thoughts are on that.
Ms. Maureen Coyle: Well, we are here to specifically talk about a bill that clearly refers to school zones. If you’re asking me what I think and what my colleagues think, we think that speeds have to be reduced everywhere—everywhere—because that speed kills. It’s the speed of a moving vehicle in relation to a human body that cannot withstand the impact.
Mr. Michael Harris: Do you think people who receive a photo radar ticket should have a demerit point loss?
Ms. Maureen Coyle: I think we need to be looking at what kinds of penalties we can talk about. I think we can be creative in our penalties. I think we can look at things like demerit points and like loss of licence, which does not happen often enough, frankly. I’m sorry, I don’t really have much patience when you’re talking to me about some hardship based on not having a driver’s licence for six months to a year, when someone is dead, when you’ve got children who are talking about suicide as a result of their parent’s death in front of their house, right?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. I apologize.
We’re going to move to the third party. Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Hi, how are you?
Ms. Maureen Coyle: I’m well, thank you.
Mr. Wayne Gates: First of all, I’d like to congratulate you on the document you handed out. I only got it 10 minutes before we started to talk, but I did go through it quickly.
You touched on things that are important to be said on pedestrian deaths, the 43. I think the lowering of the speed limit—and to your point, lower speeds reduce fatalities. The lower the speed, the less people are dying, and the stats are pretty clear. Health care costs would be reduced, by hundreds of millions of dollars. We’re talking real money.
Ms. Maureen Coyle: That’s right.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Then it said that the cost to the city of Toronto is $600 million.
Ms. Maureen Coyle: That’s right.
Mr. Wayne Gates: The reality is that it saves lives. On my colleague’s comment about photo radar, do you think they should get a penalty or some form of penalty? The reality is that if you break the law, there should be a penalty.
Ms. Maureen Coyle: Yes.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I can tell you that when my wife was hit by a drunk driver, she suffered the ultimate penalty. She’s physically challenged for the rest of her life, and he got three months. Did that crime fit the punishment? The answer is no. I don’t have a lot of sympathy there, either.
The one thing that I think has to be touched on, because I’m hearing it over and over again—you wrote it up in a nice paragraph here in this document that you provided for us—is “cash grab.” Maybe you could talk about that. Obviously, the Liberals and ourselves are supporting this bill. They’re not; they don’t believe in cash grabs. I believe this particular bill will save lives. What do you think? Maybe you can help me on that.
Ms. Maureen Coyle: I think we have a culture that has been created that allows us to dismiss real-life experience as soon as we drag out the “cash grab.” You know, my mother was a librarian. She used to tell me about people coming in and putting their 15 cents on the table for their overdue book, thinking that was how she made her living. It may not be that far off, but that cash grab is not how anybody in this room makes their living. Yes? That cash grab, that money collected from those fines, needs to be put back, and very clearly put back, in a transparent way, into the creation of safe infrastructure and safe strategies, and other ways as well.
To allow an argument as base as that, especially when compared, as I have suggested, to the overwhelming costs of ignoring this problem; the overwhelming costs to municipalities of having productive members of their communities taken suddenly, through trauma; the knock-on trauma on families in general because of these kinds of incidents; the loss of productivity; the court time; the health care facilities’ time—all of these have a huge impact.
At the same time, we’ve got these common discourses of the health imperative that say we must be healthier; we must take responsibility for our health; we must get out and walk.
I got into this work—I’m a volunteer; everybody at Walk Toronto is a volunteer—because I’m a doctoral candidate at U of T in gerontology. I work in a collaborative program between exercise sciences, the faculty of medicine, and social work.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We’ll move to the government side. Mr. Baker.
Ms. Maureen Coyle: Sorry?
Ms. Ann Hoggarth: Don’t look at me when you say “gerontology.”
Ms. Maureen Coyle: I didn’t mean to.
Mr. Yvan Baker: Maureen, thanks very much for coming in, and thank you for your advocacy, for all the energy and time that you dedicate to this cause and that you must dedicate to this cause. Thank you for that.
Ms. Maureen Coyle: Thank you.
Mr. Yvan Baker: I just want to take a couple of minutes to follow up on a few things.
Ms. Maureen Coyle: Sure.
Mr. Yvan Baker: Before we start, am I right that you’re from ward 1, that you’re from Etobicoke? You represent Etobicoke—
Ms. Maureen Coyle: No.
Mr. Yvan Baker: No? Okay.
Ms. Maureen Coyle: No. Actually, I live in the Annex currently, but I have lived all over the city at various times.
Mr. Yvan Baker: Okay, I’ll try not to hold it against you. I’m from Etobicoke, so I thought you were too.
Ms. Maureen Coyle: Excellent. My niece lives in Etobicoke.
Mr. Yvan Baker: Well, that’s pretty good. Okay.
On the cash grab issue, you’ve spoken quite eloquently on it. I won’t ask you about it again. The bottom line is, as Mr. Gates alluded to, that neither Mr. Gates’s party nor our party nor the government feels that this is a cash grab. That’s coming from one particular party.
What I want to do is just circle back a little bit. Your presentation was quite thorough, so I just have a few questions to touch on what you’ve already talked about.
You referenced statistics as to the number of pedestrian fatalities and injuries. Do you believe that this bill would provide municipalities with tools that will allow them to reduce the number of fatalities and mitigate some of the injuries?
Ms. Maureen Coyle: Absolutely. I believe that in every fibre of my being. Not only do I believe that; I have seen that occur in other jurisdictions. The rates of injury and fatality have gone down dramatically in the two years that New York has had a kind of program that includes some of these measures. If you look at Stockholm, two and a half years ago they hit zero child fatalities. Last year, they got to zero fatalities at all, and that’s nationwide.
It is possible. This is not just aspirational. When we talk about vision zero, we’re talking about no death being acceptable. In this day and age, we have the technology, we understand how road design works and how road design contributes to fatalities and serious injury. There’s no excuse for Canada, one of the world’s leading nations. We are so backwards on these points.
Mr. Yvan Baker: I know we probably only have about a minute left, if I’m not mistaken, but could you tell us, just briefly: What are the benefits of creating more walkable communities?
Ms. Maureen Coyle: The benefits are multiple. First of all, it’s economically healthy. When you have pedestrian areas, the pedestrian zones generate people walking by shops, going into shops. They’re not whizzing by them. They’re looking in the window, they’re walking into the stores, they’re talking to the shopkeepers. They are building a community in that way.
We have these conversations about people aging in place instead of going to residential care facilities. With aging in place, what that requires is that the neighbourhood be walkable so that people can go out and get their groceries every day, and meet people, and have social encounters. Those are the things that keep us healthy, not only physically, socially—but also in terms of their own health.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Ms. Coyle, for coming before committee and sharing your insight with us.
Ms. Maureen Coyle: Thank you.
Mr. Mathieu Fleury
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We have next on the agenda Councillor Mathieu Fleury, councillor for ward 12, Rideau-Vanier, city of Ottawa, via teleconference. Mr. Fleury, are you with us this afternoon?
Mr. Mathieu Fleury: I am.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Welcome, sir. It’s good to hear from you. How are things in Ottawa?
Mr. Mathieu Fleury: Things are great. The sun is out and we’re ready for spring.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Super. Ready for the Senators tomorrow night, too, I think, right?
Mr. Mathieu Fleury: Yes. Are you passing a bill relating to that, a big Sens win tomorrow?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Pardon me?
Mr. Mathieu Fleury: Big Sens win tomorrow, Grant?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): I didn’t hear it.
Mr. Mathieu Fleury: I said, “A big Sens win.”
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Well, of course the Sens are going to win.
We welcome you this afternoon. You have up to six minutes for your presentation, followed by probably two, two and a half minutes, of questioning by each party. Welcome. The floor is yours.
Mr. Mathieu Fleury: Thank you very much and thank you for allowing us to do this via teleconference. It’s much easier. I know that my colleagues had the opportunity to attend committee on Monday: Jeff Leiper and Catherine McKenney. They spoke to some of the points in downtown Ottawa.
I hope that most of you know the area, but I represent all of the ByWard Market and Lower Town. It also includes Sandy Hill, which includes the fourth-biggest university in Ottawa, and Vanier.
The element of the bill I wanted to speak to is, really, gateway signage. I know that all of the points that were raised by the previous speaker and by my colleagues earlier this week are very relevant—giving municipalities the authority to regulate, especially when there are issues of speeding near schools, near parks and in residential areas. It’s very important for us to have those tools.
I also acknowledge the wide range of municipalities we have in Ontario and how the Highway Traffic Act needs to juggle all of those needs. So we certainly appreciate the efforts in giving municipalities that ability to make those decisions on the approach that works locally.
I’m certainly in favour of red-light-running enforcement and of photo radar in school zones, but the one I wanted to bring up was specifically gateway signage. In an area like mine, where it’s a grid, there’s about one square mile of road, and that really ties in over 10,000 residents near a university campus, near LRT—a lot of pedestrians in purely residential areas. We have had the issue in the past—but right now it’s at 40 kilometres an hour. It’s hard to enforce. We’ve put some of those mid-block traffic-calming strategies in place. With these changes to the Highway Traffic Act, we believe that we’ll be able to have that gateway signage. What that means is that within a given residential zone—this is from city engineers reading some of the proposals in the Safer School Zones Act—we would be able to have that gateway signage which would enable us to reduce the speed in a given residential zone where there are schools and parks to 30 kilometres, and then enforce that speed within the zone.
We could do that today before the bill passes, but it would be of high cost and quite the challenge to enforce. At every block, you would require the signage. So I wanted to speak on that. It’s a reduction in cost to the municipality. In my area, that’s $30,000 that it would cost to put up that signage, while it’s a much smaller number if we are able to use some of that gateway signage in reducing the speed in those pure residential areas.
I know you’ve heard from a lot of speakers. I certainly applaud the work of committee and the bill that we have in front of us. I think that it does address the concerns that we have around speeding. Speeding kills, especially when a motorized vehicle gets in conflict with a pedestrian or a cyclist. We want to encourage those active modes of transportation. I think the bill does head in the right direction in that regard.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Okay. Thank you very much. We will start the questioning with the government. Mr. Lou Rinaldi, MPP for Northumberland–Quinte West.
Mr. Lou Rinaldi: Councillor Fleury, thank you for taking some time to chat with us this afternoon. You are the last one on the list here, so we’ve saved the best for the last, I guess.
Hopefully you can pass my regards to my good friend Mayor Jim Watson. We worked together here at Queen’s Park for a few years, and I have a lot of respect for him.
But back to the bill: I know that some of your council members—unfortunately, I wasn’t part of this committee on Monday—did speak in support of Bill 65. Can you share with us—if that sentiment that you shared with us this afternoon and other members of council earlier on this week—was that unanimous around the council table in Ottawa?
Mr. Mathieu Fleury: It’s certainly unanimous in all residential areas. Yes, in Ottawa, we certainly—I sit on the transportation committee; it’s unanimous from the transportation committee. We have different challenges relating to the geographical layout of our city. But in residential areas, near school zones, in the urban core, it’s certainly a unanimous effort.
Mr. Lou Rinaldi: I know that Ottawa is already using a lot of tools to try to deal with what Bill 65 is trying to help out with. Can you tell us: If Bill 65 gets passed, how much difference would that make for the city of Ottawa based on the work that Ottawa has already done?
Mr. Mathieu Fleury: Well, thank you for bringing that up. Certainly we do have amazing support from our mayor, Jim Watson. I will share those words with him. We also have a good chair of transportation, which enabled us to pass, a few years ago, a balanced approach as we redo streets. That, to us, is the foundation of complete streets. With the tools that you’re enabling us, it gives us further tools in the tool kit as we design streets, but it also allows us to correct some of the current road network issues that we have and some of the speeding infractions we have within communities. That’s important for us. We recognize the investment that the government at all levels has done in terms of improving transit, especially in Ottawa with the light rail train that’s coming in 2018. As part of that, we want to make sure that people access the stations and transit overall in a safe way. That’s basically it.
Mr. Lou Rinaldi: Thank you so much, Councillor Fleury. It’s good talking to you.
Mr. Mathieu Fleury: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We’ll move to the official opposition. Ms. Munro.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Thank you very much, Councillor Fleury, for taking time to be with us today. I was going to ask you questions that were related to the uniqueness of the area that you represent—the gateway roads that you talked about.
One of the concerns that has come up in some of the presentations has been the question of consistency—that we sort of have to train drivers to respect the speed limits that are in place and ones where there should be traffic calming. There has sometimes been criticism in terms of it being a hodgepodge of different rules here and there, and one part is 30 kilometres and one part is 50 and things like that. Have you run into any kinds of opposition based on the need to create consistency in an area such as yours, as the gateway?
Mr. Mathieu Fleury: Thank you very much for the question. I haven’t come across situations of inconsistency. I’ve come across issues where we just don’t have the tools to effect the speed reduction that is desirable. Too often, it’s easy to get a police blitz on speeding done, but it doesn’t resolve the fundamental, which is bad design. For example, in my area, one of the streets is designed to 60. We’ve reduced the speed to 40, which is more desirable, but the driveable space is for a 60-kilometre road. That’s where some of the tools that you’re giving us will enable a different effort, especially on those roads that are currently already built and won’t see a renewal in the near future.
Mrs. Julia Munro: I have a second question, and that has to do with the capacity of the roads. I see, certainly in the north of Toronto, areas—fairly significantly large areas—that are running at capacity. You add to that that they’re all going over the speed limit and it becomes a pretty dangerous place to be, even with the security of being in your own car. I wonder whether or not there’s an element of capacity of the roads themselves which should be part of our conversation in terms of making the roads safer.
Mr. Mathieu Fleury: I’m not sure that I have the answer. I think it’s a combination of efforts. I think the province and the Highway Traffic Act—you establish core decision-making for us in municipalities. I mean, municipalities are different, and the realities are different. But what we have in common is we all want residential streets to be safe. We all want our kids, when they go to school, to be able to do it walking, especially if they live nearby—and the same for our parks. I think in that regard, we certainly align with the broader goals of making our province safe and allowing our kids and families to be healthy because they feel safe when they walk and they feel safe getting on a bike. I think in that regard it’s important to stay active, and see it as part of the Highway Traffic Act—how we can continue to modernize those efforts.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Thank you very much for being able to give this time to us and for your comments.
Mr. Mathieu Fleury: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you, Councillor Fleury. That will wrap things up. We appreciate you taking the time to join us this afternoon from sunny Ottawa, and we wish you all the best.
Mr. Mathieu Fleury: Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Have a great evening, sir.
This concludes, everyone, the public hearings component on Bill 65. I would just like to advise all members that the deadline for filing amendments to this bill is at 2 p.m. on Friday. Having said that, we shall meet on Monday, May 1, to commence clause-by-clause, and if necessary, May 3, for consideration of Bill 65.
I want to thank everyone for the great work they did this afternoon, and the presenters, also, who came and shared their insights. This meeting is adjourned.
The committee adjourned at 1800.
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)
Mr. Lou Rinaldi (Northumberland–Quinte West L)
Ms. Daiene Vernile (Kitchener Centre / Kitchener-Centre L)
Clerk / Greffière
Ms. Sylwia Przezdziecki
Staff / Personnel
Mr. Michael Vidoni, research officer,