News / Toronto

Toronto MPP campaigns for safer school zones, stiffer penalties for drivers

Eglinton-Lawrence MPP Mike Colle's private member's bill would expand school zones to include adjoining streets and require more signage to alert drivers.

Students walking to school cross the busy intersection of Avenue Road and College View Avenue in Toronto. A new private member’s bill from Liberal MPP would expand the reach of school zones and improve signage near schools.

Torstar News Service

Students walking to school cross the busy intersection of Avenue Road and College View Avenue in Toronto. A new private member’s bill from Liberal MPP would expand the reach of school zones and improve signage near schools.

A Toronto-area MPP is leading a campaign to make school zones in the city – and across the province – safer.

“It’s like the Wild West out there,” said Eglinton-Lawrence MPP Mike Colle. “Some schools have a sign or two, some schools adjoining major arterials have none at all. There’s a total lack of uniformity.

“Where my grandchildren go, Runnymede public school, there’s no sign on Runnymede telling people it’s a school area,” Colle said.

Colle is preparing a private member’s bill that would expand school zones to include all roads adjacent to a school, and also establish a minimum standard of pavement markings and signage to alert drivers.

“We can’t imagine one child getting hurt here because we didn’t remind drivers to slow down,” he said.

The Liberal MPP told Metro he prepared the bill after speaking with parents from the Avenue Road Eglinton Community Association. The group has been fundraising so they can install “watch your speed” signs at nearby schools.

“It’s crazy that parents have to ask for self-funding,” Colle said. “That should be part of the options that are available.”

Colle’s bill would allow municipalities to decide how far they want to extend school zones around a given school, as well as how low the speed limits should be. It would require pavement markings at the entrance to every school zone, as well as flashing lights to be activated during pick-up and drop-off times.

Stiffer penalties needed 

In addition to making school zones safer for children, Colle said the province needs to increase penalties for drivers who kill or injure pedestrians.

“I’m for quadrupling the fines and penalties, especially when you inflict serious injury on someone or if you kill someone,” Colle said. “I would ban them from driving for life.”

On Monday, the driver who jumped the curb and killed 42-year-old Erica Stark in Riverdale in 2014, was convicted of careless driving. Elizabeth Taylor, 35, was sentenced to a $1,000 fine and a six-month partial driving ban.

“It’s not enough. It’s not deterring people from speeding and distracted driving,” Colle said.

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