In the wake of two more pedestrian deaths, family and friends of people killed by Toronto drivers went to City Hall to urge politicians to move faster to reduce the danger.
The city rolled out a new road-safety plan on Monday, but faced immediate criticism for setting a goal far more modest than some other cities. Within hours, top politicians were promising to accelerate their efforts. The official plan remains unchanged, though.
"We need to make bolder moves, and it has to happen faster than maybe, you know, the politicians are planning," said David Stark, whose wife, Erica, was killed in 2014 by a woman who drove her minivan onto the sidewalk.
Ms. Stark was one of more than 160 pedestrians killed in Toronto since 2011. A Globe and Mail investigation published on Saturday found that victims were disproportionately seniors and that one in seven of the people killed were not on the road when they were hit.
On Tuesday, another person was killed on the sidewalk. A 38-year-old woman was hit in the early afternoon by an SUV whose driver went off the road near the Rogers Centre. About 10 hours later, a 63-year-old man was killed while trying to cross Lawrence Avenue west of McCowan Road.
The latest fatalities were the 18th and 19th of 2016, putting the year on pace to be the worst in more than a decade. Against this backdrop, the group of people representing both pedestrian and cyclist deaths gathered to urge quicker action.
"These are not accidents," said Yu Li, holding a photo of close friend Zhiyong Kang, killed last year while cycling home from a late shift. "The most important part is our focus on our planning, about how we imagine how our transportation should be. It should focus on human safety and not just moving cars fast."
The road-safety plan unveiled on Monday calls for $40-million in spending over five years and sets a goal of a 20-per-cent reduction in people killed or seriously injured within a decade. Both the budget and target fall well short of the aggressive path taken by both New York and San Francisco, which are spending heavily with the aim of eliminating traffic fatalities within a decade.
At the unveiling of the plan, Toronto Mayor John Tory vigorously defended the 20-per-cent goal as "realistic" and "honest."
After a wave of criticism, his office indicated that he would support Councillor Jaye Robinson, chair of the public works and infrastructure committee, in her push to increase the goal to a 100-per-cent reduction within five years.
But it was not immediately clear whether the plan itself would change.
"The 20-per-cent reduction target is unacceptable," Jared Kolb, executive director of the advocacy group Cycle Toronto, said on Wednesday.
"We have to adopt a goal of zero, and we need to apply the resources to make that happen," Mr. Kolb said. "Under the current plan, you know, even if you were to sub out 20 per cent and put in zero, without the addition of resources, it still falls on its face."
Speaking on the sidelines of the victims' event, Ms. Robinson said that, given the changed goal, "we need to look at how we accelerate this."
She warned that money might be elusive, saying that even the original funding plan could be hard to get through city council. But she said she would work with staff to see if more money could be found for safety within the existing budget.
At a separate event on Wednesday to tout the success of $3.4-million in spending to speed up construction on part of the Gardiner Expressway, Mr. Tory insisted that the goal of the road-safety plan had always been a 100-per-cent reduction.
He suggested that more money might be found later if elements of the plan were found to be working well.
With a report from Jeff Gray