Battle brews over Blantyre bumps

A group of residents on Blantyre Avenue between Kingston Road and Gerrard Street East is frustrated that their efforts to have traffic calming installed on their streets have been denied by Scarborough Community Council.

Local resident Cynthia Doull said a plan designed by the city’s traffic department, which included chicanes, speed humps and choke points would have satisfied all the residents’ requests; however, Community Council denied the application, because one of the city’s traffic count requirements was not met after a traffic study was completed.

“It was a very good plan. It’s attractive, it would have been very effective, and it would have been installed for less than $80,000,” said Doull.

She explained that the cost was so low because the traffic calming elements could have been installed when the street is reconstructed this summer.

In a January report, Traffic Services recommended that Community Council authorize traffic calming, despite the volume of traffic on the street not being sufficient for all warrants in the traffic study. For the Technical Warrant, traffic needs to be between 2,500 and 8,000 vehicles per day on a Collector Road; Blantyre between Gerrard and Kingston saw just under 2,100 vehicles per day, travelling an average of 5.5km/h over the 40km/h speed limit. The other warrants all passed, including majority support from residents on the street.

Whether Blantyre should be classed as a Collector Road or a Local Road – which has a lower volume threshold of at least 1,000 vehicles per day – is a question Doull has been asking.

What she and some other residents are more concerned about, however, is Councillor Gary Crawford’s involvement in the traffic calming application process. Doull said she had requested to make a presentation at Community Council regarding the application, but was told not to, as the application was moved ahead early and presented as a ‘walk-on,’ in order to get it on the table before the budget.

“We assumed this was because the councillor was confident he wouldn’t need us. That wasn’t the case,” said Doull.

She said she and other neighbours are wondering how a proposal that had the support of traffic services and a majority of the neighbourhood was simply voted down and left at that.

Crawford said despite what some residents may seem to think, he was in favour of the application, and did everything he could to make it happen.

“I’ve always been incredibly supportive of traffic calming,” he said, noting that as a former school trustee for that area, he appreciates the concerns of parents at Blantyre Public School.

Unfortunately, however, since the warrants weren’t all met, Community Council voted against the application 6-2, and that’s the end of it for now, he said. As far as the zoning of the street, Crawford said the Collector status is suitable for that block of Blantyre.

“That zoning has always been there and has been warranted. The zoning that is there is appropriate for that street. That doesn’t say that in the future it can’t change, but at this point that zoning is totally appropriate for that kind of a street,” he said.

When the street is reconstructed this summer, the intersection at Parkland Road, which has an all-way stop, will be raised, which will give the street some measure of traffic calming. Signage indicating that truck traffic is not allowed on Blantyre has also been missing for some time; Crawford has requested the city reinstall the missing signs as soon as possible.

“It’s not the most ideal from my perspective for the community,” said Crawford, but for now Community Council has spoken. When development on the former quarrylands finally happens the zoning of the street will be looked at again, he said, as Blantyre may be extended north of Gerrard at that time.

Doull, for her part, said she and others on the street will continue to petition the city for traffic calming, with or without Crawford’s help, a point that has been made clear in an increasingly tense series of emails.

“Even if we’re not successful this time, we will continue to do this,” she said. “The community has spoken very clearly: we want to be like the rest of the city. We want our communities to be safe and enjoyable…It’s a dangerous situation, and it could have been remedied.”

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