Leslie Ferris is a guy you want in your community.
The former Australian wine executive championed traffic calming in the southwest community of Strathcona, garnering $900,000 for eight speed cushions, 15 curb extensions, four centre medians, two intersection corner adjustments, a speed board, and admin costs.
This was the most of the last 10 traffic calming projects. Traffic calming has a $1 million yearly budget, and it’s the one that Ald. Ric McIver pledged to slice if mayor.
It was a nice play to his future council, because aldermen hate traffic calming, and no two citizens agree on the problem, or the solution. My neighbour likes to speed; I’m frustrated by the refusal of the city’s refusal to get Strathcona-like “cushions.”
Yet, traffic calming is worthwhile. If you get struck by a car travelling at 50km/h, you’re dead.
As the city’s own documents say, traffic ruins community cohesiveness.
Yet measures are not equal. Some get gated streets (Hillhurst Sunnyside), or 200-metre playground zones (Elbow Park) or roundabouts and no-turn zones (Rosedale). Others can’t get no satisfaction.
Such nonsense wouldn’t stop Leslie Ferris.
He didn’t like what he saw around his grandchildren’s school, and he lobbied for measures to slow traffic and create safe drop-offs.
“I’m consistent and I don’t give up. I’m like a mongrel dog with a bone.” Ald. Joe Connelly backed the community.
“Just the worst thing in my mind is to see a child injured,” says Ferris.
What does traffic calming cost? West Hillhurst, ($740,000) Mayland Heights, Triwood and Shawnee-Evergreen ($400,000 each), Oakridge ($44,000) Dalhousie ($450,000), Cambrian Heights and Thorncliffe ($11,000 each.)
In Cambrian Heights, Caroline Bartel is happy despite being bottom of the spending heap. She’s the mom of two young children and the community association president.
After the city wouldn’t call her back, she met a city staffer at an event who listened to speeding concerns near a dog park. Two three-inch speed tables now bookend a pedestrian walkway.
“They (speed tables) have been fantastic,” Bartel says. She’d want to see pros and cons to cutting traffic calming.
And soon, Leslie Ferris, 71, will return to Australia, with a plea.
“There’s a total disregard for children’s safety here. I told the city ‘You represent the people. Fix it’.”