Mayor Tory pushes forward on 'traffic warden' plan by sending letter to police board

Mayor Tory is urging the Toronto Police Board to request that the province approve the appointing of special constables to direct traffic at busy intersections.

Tory is requesting special constable status for the new positions which would help ease gridlock, he said

Mayor John Tory wants the city's "traffic wardens" to be granted special constable status. (Nicole Martin)

Mayor John Tory sent a letter to the Toronto Police Services board urging the force to request special constable status for new "traffic warden" positions, continuing his push to ease congestion.

Tory wants to see the wardens on the job next year — saying it will ease gridlock at major intersections.

The mayor wouldn't get into specifics and couldn't answer how many special constables would be hired, how much they would be paid, or go into detail about the training process and costs. 

"I don't know how many we're going to hire, we're going to have to assess that while we're waiting on the response of the provincial government to do this ... The cost of each individual traffic warden will be less than that of a police officer," the mayor explained.

"The intention is to have the people employed by the city of Toronto transportation services department, but I am sure the training will be carried out largely by, if not exclusively by the Toronto Police Service."

The initiative stems from a pilot project conducted in July and October of 2016 where paid-duty police officers directed traffic in some of the most congested hotspots in the city. The Mayor said the pilot project resulted in a 90 per cent reduction in intersection blockage by vehicles and a 70 per cent reduction in intersection blockage by pedestrians.

Currently, the Highway Traffic Act only authorizes police officers to direct traffic and close highways. Tory says attempting to amend the Highway Traffic Act could take quite a while, and that the most efficient alternative is to have the Toronto Police Board appoint special constables as long as they are approved by the Minister of Community Safety & Correctional Services.

The Mayor says he is determined to deal with the congestion on our roads and having traffic wardens would not only reduce gridlock, but would also free up police resources so highly trained and highest paid officers would be used more effectively.