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The joys of traffic in Leaside

Spring arrives, with better weather, green grass and daffodils blooming. There is also a less welcome change: our through traffic numbers increase. With the ice and snow a fading memory, drivers across the city – across the entire GTA – rediscover the joys of driving through Leaside. Those of us who live here notice that all of a sudden there seem to be more cars on our streets, many of them driving faster.

There ARE more cars on our streets, adding to the problems we already have with congestion and speed. Meanwhile, construction on the LRT line continues, and new construction begins on LRT stations at Bayview and Laird, creating more traffic headaches.

I have been involved in looking for traffic solutions for our neighbourhood since the 1970s. I can remember the then North Toronto councillor, at his traffic meetings on the west side of Bayview, criticizing Leaside as being the source of many of their traffic problems. We were charged with being too reluctant to support traffic calming on our side of Bayview. In effect, he said, Leaside was inviting flow-through traffic to cruise through Leaside and cross over onto Merton, Millwood, and Broadway into North Toronto.

In a way this was true, because in those years Leasiders would support only minimal measures to reduce through traffic. There was a sense that less was more, that the majority rejected any measures to reduce our traffic if supporting those measures might mean even a slight delay to, or inconvenience in, their trips.

Over the years, less really WAS more. The less we did, the more traffic increased. At some point, things reached a kind of critical mass, compounded by additional traffic from construction and developments new and proposed, residential and commercial, all around us. At some point, residents across Leaside (not just those living on the ‘traditionally’ busy streets) noticed.

In early March, the LPOA held two public consultation sessions on the subject of traffic. Our traffic consultant presented proposed measures and their proposed locations throughout North and South Leaside. There were also brief reports from Councillor Burnside’s traffic committees.

I was interested to note that, of the roughly 160 attendees, the majority expressed approval of more, not less, traffic calming on our streets. This is not to say that there was a clamour for large-scale mazes or major diversions, but there certainly was an understanding that what we have now is insufficient, and an interest in looking at alternatives.

Some attendees found the proposals in our presentation too cautious. We say that if Leasiders, after further consultation and polling, approve more, we will support them.

Next steps? The LPOA committee will coordinate with Councillor Burnside’s North and South Leaside committees. An area-wide public meeting (or meetings) will be held. We will work with City staff, and help set up the polling arrangements to ensure that everyone in the neighbourhood has the opportunity to have a say. The result will go to North York Community Council for a vote. If there is strong support within Leaside, and with Councillor Burnside’s support, there is a very good chance that real improvements can come to pass. . . . .

Visit the LPOA’s website (www.lpoa.ca) and read our consultant’s PowerPoint presentation. You will see details of the traffic calming measures we can consider. Many are cost effective, too. They are primarily physical methods, since ordinary signage relies too much on police enforcement, which is sporadic at best and nonexistent at worst. Raised crosswalks, speed cushions, reduced curb radii (aka throat-narrowings at intersections), and gateway entrances are illustrated. Photo radar and red light cameras are modern possibilities.

The LPOA site also offers a survey for your comments and suggestions. We’d like you to fill it out and send it electronically or in the mail. Although March 31st was our original deadline, we will of course continue to consider and count surveys received a bit after that. The key thing is to have as many of your responses counted so we can move forward together.

These proposals are only the first draft. There will be changes made based on your comments, as well as on the recommendations coming out of the other two committees. This is definitely a work in progress. We look forward to hearing from you.

The next monthly LPOA board meeting is Wednesday, April 5, at the Trace Manes building at 7:30 p.m.