By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
The City of Oshawa has established its first community safety zone.
The zone has been designated on a section of Conlin Road near the intersection of Simcoe Street North, close to both Durham College and UOIT.
The concept of the safety zone came as a result of a motion brought forth by Ward 2 regional councillor Tito-Dante Marimpietri, seconded by the ward’s city councillor, Jane Hurst, at council’s inaugural meeting on Dec. 3.
Marimpietri told The Oshawa Express he’s long had safety concerns about the area, but the death of a 19-year-old pedestrian in November was the tipping point.
“There’s a great deal of distress to myself, staff, and everyone, especially the student population, that there was a fatality there. Nobody should have to die to make sure that action was taken,” he said at the time.
The community safety zone is designated 100 metres west of Founders Drive to the west of the intersection to 100 metres east of Bridle Road. (Feels a bit awkwardly worded)
This became effective on Dec. 21 when signs were installed marking the beginning and end of the community safety zone. With the safety zone in place, penalties for violations, including speeding and careless driving-related offences are increased.
Marimpietri’s motion also requested the Region of Durham establish a safety zone on Simcoe Street North at Niagara Drive/Selleck Lane to the south and the entrance of the Campus Ice Centre to the north.
His plan also includes requests that speed limits be reduced to 50 km/h (from the current 60 km/h) between Conlin and Britannia Avenue, and to 60 km/h from 80 km/h north of Britannia to Highway 407.
Finally, Marimpietri wants the region to pay for the installation of a temporary sidewalk on the east side of Simcoe between Britannia and Northern Dancer Drive, and on the west side between Britannia and Conlin.
Ramesh Jagannathan, director of transportation and field services for Durham Region says the Conlin-Simcoe intersection is one of the busiest in the municipality.
Because of this, Jagannathan says the region is on board with the idea of a community safety zone.
He says the temporary sidewalk on the east side of Simcoe would work within the region’s future plans for widening the street between Conlin and Winchester.
That project will naturally slow down traffic in the area, Jagannathan adds.
“Once you put in sidewalks it automatically reduces speed. Over the next two or three years, that area is going to see a lot of construction,” he said.
The region has already taken some measures to improve safety including the installation of a pedestrian crosswalk near Founders Gate.
Jagannathan added that a regional community safety zone from the region’s end would likely happen in early-2019.
Marimpietri said he is extremely pleased with how quickly the process came together.
“It’s amazing what can happen when the community has the right representatives working directly with staff at the city and region to proactively resolve safety issues and their concerns,” he told The Oshawa Express. “I took on the initiative the moment I recognized it was vital to ensuring the well being of neighbours, students and visitors to the area, and with the support of our new mayor and my colleagues, it came together in a timely professional manner.”
However, he says there is still more work to do.
“As chair of the City of Oshawa development services department and vice chair of the Region of Durham’s public works committee, I have engaged staff at both levels who are working with me to establish a comprehensive and tangible safely improvements which will be further identified in the coming weeks as we roll out this much anticipated new project,” Marimpietri said.