WATCH: John Tory unveils his plan to tackle Toronto’s gridlock.
TORONTO – Toronto Mayor John Tory is taking aim at gridlock in the city with the release of a six-point plan he says will have an immediate impact on cutting traffic congestion.
“When it comes to traffic, there’s a new sheriff in town,” Tory told reporters during a press conference inside the city’s Traffic Management Centre on Don Mills Road Thursday morning.
Tory made transit and traffic congestion relief a top priority during the mayoral campaign and vowed to put policies in place to get the city moving again.
“People are saying they have had enough,” Tory said. “It’s more than just dollars signs. It impacts family life.”
Tory’s plan involves redeploying parking enforcement officers to highly congested areas, as well as implementing a zero tolerance policy for blocking lanes during peak traffic times starting Jan. 1, 2015.
Furthermore, he pledged to enhance road closure reporting to ensure highways and roads in the city are not closed while major events are taking place.
Tory also plans to chair a multi-organizational traffic enforcement team which will include overseeing the deployment of additional traffic cameras on arterial roads.
The mayor also wants to accelerate the city’s traffic signal re-timing program, establish more stringent criteria and higher fees for the closure of lanes by private development projects, and finally to speed up public sector construction projects by extending work hours and reducing the duration of construction on major roadways.
“It starts with law enforcement,” Tory said during an interview on Global’s The Morning Show ahead of his press conference Thursday. “People, if they know they’re going to get a ticket, or get towed, are going to change their behaviour.”
Tory said the public can expect to see immediate congestion relief soon, especially with regards to additional parking tickets being issued.
“You can’ t do it all overnight. But I have made if very clear to officials on behalf of the people who elected me, we’re not waiting around,” he said.
“It’s not going to be something that’s studied for months. We’re going to be moving with steps that can be done right away.”
A recent report by the C.D. Howe Institute says the price tag for time spent in gridlock is around $6 billion for the Greater Toronto Area.
Meanwhile according to Statistics Canada, Toronto itself has the highest commute times to and from work in the country with an estimated 32.8 minutes.
Tory has repeatedly said his regional rail system proposal, SmartTrack, will help alleviate some of that traffic congestion.