Toronto, Ontario -- September 18, 2017 -- The government of Ontario is moving to amend the Highway Traffic Act to permit non-police officers to direct traffic in Toronto.
Mayor John Tory announced that Torontonians will see full-time traffic wardens on the city streets by early in 2018. Tory campaigned in part on promises to reduce congestion in Toronto. He made the announcement on September 18 during a press conference at Nathan Phillips Square during the morning rush hour.
“I’m hopeful that they’re wearing a bright orange coat, or a bright green coat or something so people will clearly see who they are and what they are and what they’re there to do,” Tory said.
The province has agreed to make the necessary changes under the Highway Traffic Act that will authorize officers other than police to manage pedestrian and car traffic on city streets, and, if needed, around construction sites.
A number of people, including Tory, have criticized the practice of having police officers receive paid-duty assignments to direct traffic. City staff released a report in 2016 saying special constables should be trained and permitted to perform this duty.
Toronto launched a pilot program using paid-duty police officers to go to key intersections that were experiencing bottlenecks. Tory said during the press conference that the project was a success, noting, “We found a minimum of 90-per-cent reduction in intersection blockage by vehicles and a 70-per-cent reduction in intersection blockage by pedestrians.”
Other measures were also announced Monday. Utility trucks will no longer be permitted to park on the street during the day for non-emergency work. The city will also create two “quick-clear squads” that will monitor traffic lanes along key downtown corridors, the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway, and make sure they’re not blocked.