As the development boom in north Oshawa has exploded over the past decade, an increase in traffic has been seen on a stretch of Simcoe Street.
The stretch, which is north of Niagara Drive, was once surrounded by relatively low density neighbourhoods, farm fields and green spaces.
However, it is now home to thousands of students and residents from both Durham College and Ontario Tech University.
Last November, one of those students lost his life after being struck by a car at the intersection of Conlin Road and Simcoe Street North.
Rhyss Greenfield, 19, of Mitchell was struck by a vehicle that hit the median and crashed into him.
For weeks after his death, a memorial was placed at the intersection.
For Ward 2 regional councillor Tito-Dante Marimpietri, Greenfield’s death was a 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,” Marimpietri told The Oshawa Express later in the year.
On Dec. 21, 2018, Oshawa city council approved a plan to develop a community safety zone in the area.
The zone, the first of it’s kind in Oshawa, is located on Conlin Road, between Founders Drive and Bridle Road, and Simcoe Street North, between Niagara Drive/Selleck Lane and the entrance of the Campus Ice Centre.
The initiative also received support from Durham regional council.
Durham Region lowered speed limits in the area, and is also installing sidewalks on Simcoe Street North between Northern Dancer Drive and Britannia Avenue East.
With the community safety zone in place, fines for speeding and careless driving are increased.
While he was vocally critical that a fatality had occurred before action was taken, Marimpietri says he is pleased with the results of the community safety zone.
“It has achieved a lot of what we anticipated and hoped for in terms of the safety of residents and students. I’m really happy to see the positive impact it has had,” Marimpietri says.
From the feedback he’s received, Marimpietri says the local community is happy as well.
“I definitely think the public was happy with how quickly we moved,” he notes. “I believe, from what I’ve heard, the student population is very happy, as it not only had a positive result on their everyday activity in the area, but they feel they have a safer community with a higher quality of life.”
The Ward 2 councillor believes more zones will be coming down the road, and not just in Oshawa.
“When you consider the work we did immediately, I envisioned it as something of a template we could use not only in the city, but across the region.”
Marimpietri says police “can’t be everywhere,” and tools such as these zones, red light cameras and photo radar will improve safety in Oshawa and the region.
“Every little bit helps,” he says.