News / Toronto

Victory for crosswalk crusaders: Scarborough council votes for signalized crossing

If it gets approved by council next month, a new crosswalk and traffic light could be coming to McCowan Road and Bridlegrove Drive.

Mary Rafter has been advocating for a crosswalk at McCowan Road and Bridlegrove Drive for over a year. Last week, Scarborough Community Council did her one better: they voted in favour of installing a stoplight at the intersection.

Liz Beddall/Metro

Mary Rafter has been advocating for a crosswalk at McCowan Road and Bridlegrove Drive for over a year. Last week, Scarborough Community Council did her one better: they voted in favour of installing a stoplight at the intersection.

Mary Rafter says going to the Scarborough Community Council meeting last week was “the scariest thing I ever did.”

But she’s glad she went.

After more than a year of pushing for a crosswalk at the intersection of McCowan Road and Bridlegrove Drive, Rafter got her wish … and more.

The community council voted 7-1 to install a traffic light at the intersection, where an entrance to McCowan District Park’s forthcoming ice rink will soon be located. Coun. Norm Kelly was the lone dissenting vote.

The issue will be forward to city council in November. If approved, it’s expected to be built within a year.

“I still can’t believe it, I’m like ‘pinch me,’” said Rafter, who collected over 1,000 signatures in favour of a crosswalk, and encouraged local elementary students to write letters to Mayor John Tory.

“That’s my favourite part,” she said. “Every time those kids cross at that light, they’ll know they had something to do with it being there.”

The community council’s vote defies a staff report suggesting the intersection does not meet the requirements for a crosswalk or stoplight in terms of pedestrian or vehicle traffic.

“Warrants are one thing, but I think the safety of the community is another. Going along with an increase in traffic that will happen naturally when the park and the ice rink opens, we thought it was a good idea to be proactive,” said Coun. Gary Crawford, who moved the motion to install the stoplight.

Toronto receives over 300 applications for new crosswalks or lights every year, but only a handful get approved. Rafter hopes her case can serve as a model for anyone else trying to make their communities safer.

“It just goes to show that no isn’t always the final answer,” she said. “It’s our job to show them why they have to say yes.”

In addition to the stoplight, Rafter and Crawford also convinced the community council to consider adding a memorial bench to the new park for Yan Zhang, the 36-year-old woman who was killed near the intersection by a drunk driver who mounted the sidewalk in 2007.

Resthaven Memorial Gardens has agreed to donate the bench, valued at $5,000.

“There’s nothing there to remind me of her … but everyone still talks about her. The community has never gotten over it,” Rafter said. 

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