Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Toronto’s Mayor John Tory is shown at City Hall on Dec. 2, 2014.

CHRIS YOUNG/The Canadian Press

John Tory is moving to reduce congestion in Toronto, tackling one of his key campaign promises only days after becoming mayor.

The six-point plan unveiled on Thursday includes visible steps such as towing vehicles that block traffic during rush hour, more parking enforcement officers on main routes and better planning of road closings.

"Will people see this happening? Yes, they will," Mr. Tory said at Toronto's traffic management centre in front of a bank of television screens showing congestion hotspots across the city. "I don't want people to think we're not going to have traffic … but they are going to see a difference."

Story continues below advertisement

Traffic and transit were the most important issues of the campaign, according to pollsters. Mr. Tory based his candidacy in large part on addressing the problems.

On Thursday, he acknowledged that the larger solution is to improve transit so people can get out of their cars, but he wants to do what he can to ease congestion in the short run.

Among the other ideas in the plan are having crews work longer hours for some road construction and increasing the number of traffic cameras, including using feeds from media aircraft. The cost is still being worked out, the mayor said, noting that some parts of the plan simply redeploy resources.

Asked how success would be measured, a spokesperson for Mr. Tory said the public will see tangible effects such as more police or towing. And she said people will make it clear if they believe it is working.

"We get feedback bluntly every day," Amanda Galbraith said. "The measurement's going to be in the people of Toronto."

Some highlights of the plan:

Aggressive towing

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Tory is promising "zero tolerance" for illegal parking on main roads during rush hour. The policy is to apply equally to people grabbing a coffee and the delivery and shredder trucks that rack up multiple tickets.

"We can't have these people, these traffic-stoppers, disrupting the lives of hundreds and thousands of other Torontonians any more, no matter what it is they're doing," Mr. Tory said.

Hauling away delivery trucks in substantial numbers would require more extrasize trucks than JP Towing usually puts on the road, heavy division operations manager Kevin Araya said, but he added that the company has the vehicles needed.

The policy could also have a benefit beyond easing traffic flow. York University professor David Wiesenthal, who studies driving and stress, noted that aggravation and aggressive behaviour rise with congestion.

"When people don't see traffic moving and there's an obvious target, the person at the curb lane making a delivery, that I think would make people even more stressed and angered," he said.

Closing road access

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Tory wants to crack down on the road restrictions related to repair work and development.

He will chair the road closings co-ordination committee for the next six months. And he said it is time to modernize the system, noting that information about road closings often comes to the city by fax.

"Let's get in the 21st century, or maybe even just the 20th century, here and not have this done by fax anymore,'" he said.

The sheer number of events in the city, coupled with the short summer construction season, will complicate this co-ordination. The TTC and Transportation Services have responded to past criticism of the timing of their work by pointing out just how little flexibility they have.

Also, Mr. Tory wants Transportation Services to look into more stringent criteria and higher fees for developers to take over a lane. The issue came up repeatedly during the campaign, with candidates saying it is now too easy and cheap.

"By attaching a real price to closing down lanes of traffic, I believe we will significantly reduce the number of lanes of traffic that we have to close, and the length of time those lanes are closed, if in fact they are at all," Mr. Tory said.

Story continues below advertisement

Signal timing

The city has been gradually re-timing traffic signals to reflect changes in travel patterns: 250 intersections were scheduled for next year. Mr. Tory's plan will bump that to 350. "This will allow traffic to move better," he said. "We will also move faster to test and pilot up the new traffic signal technology that can sense traffic flows and respond in real time."

The possibility of a so-called "green wave" of signals is attractive to motorists and was widely touted during the campaign. While signal timing is not a simple solution – it works best on roads with heavy and predictable traffic flow in one direction at a time and is complicated by factors such as grid size and pedestrian movements – it can improve efficiency.

Ryerson professor Murtaza Haider, director of the Institute of Housing and Mobility, said he has seen research that indicates as much as a 30-per-cent improvement for drivers if retiming is done well.

"If we were to co-ordinate the signal timings, for not just two consecutive signals but the network of intersections, and we co-ordinate their signal timings, we have tremendous ability to reduce the delay," he said.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies