Corp Comm Connects

30 km/h limit set for downtown residential streets

Community council votes unanimously for a change that will affect 387 km of local roads downtown and in East York.
June 22, 2015
By David Rider

Motorists using downtown and East York local streets will soon see speed limits drop to 30 km/h, despite cautions by city staff and some suburban councillors.

On Monday evening, members of Toronto-East York community council voted unanimously to reduce speed to 30 km/h, down from 40 km/h, on 387 km of local roads.

“This is not going to stop people from speeding, but it’s going to contribute,” said Councillor Josh Matlow, who has been championing the move at city hall and moved the supporting motion Monday night.

In a report, city staff say the change could improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists, though it may not be suitable for many local roads.

Toronto’s Public Health department and the provincial coroner have also advocated for reduced speed limits.

The city staff report also said changing signs and traffic signals to accommodate the lower speed limit will cost $1.1 million and money was not earmarked in the 2015 budget.

However, Councillor Gord Perks moved an amendment to Matlow’s motion directing staff not to wait until next year to start replacing signs. Instead, Perks said he’s confident the money can be found and that staff should start swapping signs this September.

Several councillors noted that concerns about speeding and traffic safety are a top priority in their wards.

Community council heard from more than a dozen deputants who supported the speed limit cut, though many urged councillors to go even further.

None opposed the move, though there was some dissent in email sent to the community council. “Please, in the name of all things holy, do NOT do this,” said an email from a York University history professor. “I am supremely confident that there is a colossal silent majority who believe, as I do, that current limits are fine, if a touch slow.”

Some councillors predicted more areas of Toronto might follow the lead to lower speed limits. They unanimously supported Councillor Joe Mihevc’s motion to forward the decision to other community councils even though some suburban councillors have said such decisions should be done on a street-by-street basis.

Staff estimate it could take two to three years to change signs and traffic signals on residential streets across the entire area.

Councillor Joe Cressy (open Joe Cressy's policard) said he’s hopeful the change can happen quickly. “We want it as soon as possible.”

Mayor John Tory (open John Tory's policard), talking to reporters after raising the Pride flag at city hall, said he would not vote for such a “blanket” speed-limit reduction. While acknowledging he has no vote at Toronto-East York council, Tory said he would prefer a “more carefully crafted policy.”

On Twitter, Perks shot back: “This has been in the works since the ’90s. It was developed step by step, and it has a clear target: saving lives.”

Monday night’s decision does not have to be approved by council.

Wards that would be affected: