Parents demand return of crossing guards in busy downtown neighbourhood

By Mike Smee, CBC News

Classes may be over for the summer, but parents at one east Toronto school say they'll continue fighting what they say is a dangerous situation for their children.

The streets around Morse Street Junior Public School, near Queen Street East and and Carlaw Avenue, have become plagued with speeding and reckless drivers who are jeopardizing their children's' safety, according to the parents.

And their local councillor, Paula Fletcher (Ward 30 Toronto-Danforth), will be asking city council at this week's meeting to address the problem.

"We're particularly worried about students getting safely to Morse Street school, a school that's gone from 400 students to 900 students just over the last seven to ten years. So student safety is very much on the minds of all of the parents and the principal," Fletcher said.

"Carlaw is a big arterial road, so there's a lot of traffic there in the morning and the afternoon, and the intersection of Queen and Carlaw they feel just isn't safe enough."

Fletcher has penned a motion that calls for the elimination of some right turns during school hours and the addition of brightly painted School Zone markings on the roads.

The motion will be addressed at this week's meeting of city council.

But what some parents say they really want is the return of two of the neighbourhood's three crossing guards, who were pulled out by the Toronto Police Service last fall.

One was at the intersection of Morse and Queen streets, the other was at Morse Street and Eastern Avenue.

"Crossing the street you feel like you're taking your life in your hands sometimes," said Michelle Warren, who has a child at Morse Street school. "It's unbelievable the lack of awareness about pedestrians, especially kids."

Her 11-year-old daughter Ruarie, who attends Morse Street school, echoes those concerns.

"It's just kind of scary walking to school sometimes," she told CBC Toronto. "Sometimes we don't like to walk to school by ourselves that much because we're afraid; there are so many cars, something's going to happen."

But Toronto police spokesperson Meaghan Gray told CBC Toronto last week that police regularly analyze traffic patterns and student populations across the city, then assign crossing guards to those intersections where they are deemed most necessary.

"Because of that review, it was determined that those two locations didn't require school crossing guards because of all the other traffic safety measures in place," she said.

Stories of close calls

The city's transportation services department said there have been three accidents in the area since 2012. None were fatal, and none involved students.

Still, Warren said most parents in the neighbourhood have stories of close calls.

"It's only a matter of time," she said.

Click here to go to the article on CBC News.

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