Girl’s death spurs calls for traffic changes

Lower speed limits, turn restrictions sought after accident at Millwood and McRae

Two weeks after a traffic accident that killed 6-year-old Georgia Walsh in Leaside, city councillors were announcing proposals for large-scale traffic rule changes, not only in Leaside but throughout midtown Toronto.

Councillor John Parker, who represents Leaside, sent out a newsletter advising he would recommend to council this month that right turns be disallowed on red lights at Millwood Road and McRae Drive, the intersection where Walsh was struck on July 16.

“I frankly hadn’t contemplated that before the fatality but the correspondence came pouring in immediately afterwards,” he said. “People have found … it’s a hazardous circumstance with cars turning and pedestrians crossing at the same time.

“I discussed that with road staff and they had no difficulty supporting a right-turn-on-red restriction.”

While Parker said changes like this wouldn’t normally come into effect until after the next council meeting in January, city staff is ensuring everything can be approved in time for the changes to be implemented after the council meeting this month.

Parker will also be asking for a report on lowering speed limits on residential Leaside streets to 30 km/h. The same suggestion was made by the city’s medical officer of health in a 2012 report, which indicated a drastic decline in fatalities and injuries when speed limits were lowered to 30 km/h in several European cities.

Councillor Josh Matlow, who represents neighbouring Davisville as well as much of Forest Hill, is also planning to introduce a motion at council asking for the residential streets throughout his entire ward to have speed limits dropped to 30 km/h.

“There’s no reason to drive faster than 30 km/h on a local neighbourhood street,” he said. “There’s nowhere that you’ve got to get to any faster that’s worth the life of a child.”

Matlow said traffic has always been a top concern for his constituents, but it jumped to the forefront after Georgia Walsh was struck.

The Leaside community also jumped into action.

McRae Drive resident Roger Cattell organized a roadside memorial immediately afterward and then started a “Slow Down” campaign in Leaside, where hundreds of lawn signs line streets throughout the neighbourhood.

Cattell told the Town Crier the main message he hopes to convey to people driving through the community is to “drive like you live here, and drive like your kids play here.”

About this article:

Posted: Aug 12 2014 4:23 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto