News / Toronto

'We’re asking our politicians to act': Victims of Toronto's deadly streets call for change

Those whose loved ones were killed on Toronto's roads are coming forward to demand the city prevent other tragedies from happening.

From left: Maisie Le Blanc, Yu Li, David Stark and Kasia Briegmann-Samson want to prevent others from losing loved ones on Toronto's streets.

Liz Beddall/Metro

From left: Maisie Le Blanc, Yu Li, David Stark and Kasia Briegmann-Samson want to prevent others from losing loved ones on Toronto's streets.

Victims of Toronto’s deadly streets gathered in Nathan Phillips Square Wednesday to put a name and face to the chilling statistics taking place on our roads.

David Stark spoke about his wife Erica, who was killed by a driver who veered onto the sidewalk 19 months ago, leaving him to care for their three sons.

“We need cities designed with safety in mind so the tragedy suffered by my family will not happen to others," he said. 

Kasia Briegmann-Samson told the crowd what it was like to tell her children that their father, her husband Tom Samson, was dead.

Tom, a beloved teacher at Swansea Public School, was cycling to work when he was killed by a hit and run driver four years ago.

"I hope you never have to stand in my shoes. I hope you never have your partner’s wedding ring handed to you in a paper bag by a police officer. I hope you never have to tell your children that their dad was killed, and see their faces as they realize they will never be held by him again," she said.

Unlike other crimes, the names of those killed on our roads are seldom made public. Police cite privacy, and desire not to re-victimize families, as a reason for withholding the information.

As a result, Wednesday’s event marks the first time families who have lost loved ones on our streets have come together to speak with one voice.

“Traffic-related fatalities have a devastating impact on families and communities, so I think it’s crucial that we hear from them,” said Jared Kolb of Cycle Toronto, who organized the event along with Walk Toronto.

“It puts a human face on something that that’s all too often another statistic.”

In addition to sharing their stories, victims and their families called on the city to bolster its new road safety plan.

Mayor John Tory has pledged to eliminate road fatalities in Toronto, but he has yet to commit any additional funds to the $68-million plan in order to achieve that goal.

“I want the city to embrace Vision Zero and commit the resources needed to eliminate fatalities on our roads,” Stark said.

“We’re asking our politicians to act,” said Walk Toronto’s Maureen Coyle. “They can no longer hide behind the comfortable distance that numbers or statistics can offer.”

Are you concerned about Toronto’s deadly streets? Click here to contact your councillor and tell them you want a road safety plan that puts pedestrians first and makes our roads safer for everyone. 

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