Mayor John Tory speaks with reporters at Bay and Queen streets on Tuesday.

The city’s proposed budget for 2018 will include $9 million in funding for a package of initiatives aimed at speeding up traffic and “making a difference in people’s commute,” Mayor John Tory says.

Tory made the comment to reporters during a news conference at the intersection of Bay and Queen streets, where he highlighted the proposed investments in congestion management.

The $9 million in funding includes, $1.6 million to hire 16 full-time traffic wardens, $477,000 to establish two additional “quick clear teams” to remove cars blocking lanes on major roadways and $2.7 million for the purchase of smart traffic signals, which are able to communicate with one another and be re-timed according to traffic conditions.

The city previously introduced a pilot project this past fall, where it introduced smart traffic signals at 22 different intersections.

“We owe it to drivers, cyclist, pedestrians and transit riders to make sure the city moves in the best way possible as quickly as possible,” Mayor John Tory said. “Challenging as it may be to keep ahead of traffic in a growing city, we are investing millions of new dollars this year (in traffic initiatives) while also trying to keep the city affordable by holding the line on tax increases.”

Traffic wardens will be civilian employees

The city previously placed a number of Toronto police officers at select major intersections to act as traffic wardens as part of a pilot project in 2016.

The data from that pilot project indicated that when those officers were actively engaged in managing vehicles and pedestrians, it resulted in a 90 per cent reduction in intersection blockage by vehicles and a 70 per cent reduction in intersection blockage by pedestrians.

Tory said that the traffic wardens being hired in 2018 will be civilian employees with the authority to direct vehicles and pedestrians and write tickets. The power to issue tickets is the result of recent changes to the provincial Highway Traffic Act that were requested by the city.

“In order to write tickets these traffic wardens have to be special constables and that has carried some legislative requirements that we have had to meet but they will be in the field this year,” Tory said. “I think when we actually deploy these traffic wardens into the streets in the spring it will make a difference. We wouldn’t be doing it if it didn’t make a difference.”

The proposed budget is being considered by the city’s executive committee today. It will then be finalized during a special meeting of council scheduled for February 12-13.

Source: CP24