Close calls at the crosswalk

Shortage of Toronto crossing guards puts young students at risk on their commute.

Toronto needs more crossing guards.

Crossing busy city streets can be dangerous, especially for young students, who, like all Toronto pedestrians, must deal with speeding cars, stopping just before a crosswalk or racing through before those on foot have made it to the other side.

Early this year, Toronto.com reported that crossing guard Amir Siyani was absent from Donlands Avenue and Plains Road. According to Toronto Police Traffic Services, the crossing guard retired. However, the report states the crossing guard was removed following a four-day survey of the intersection that determined a guard was unwarranted. It’s an intersection used by East York children on their journey to and from school.

The loss of this position was just one of the cutbacks contributing to a crossing-guard shortage across the city.

In areas where there are no crossing guards, police often have to stop while on duty to help children cross the street. Compared to the reported six figure salary of many Toronto police officers, the approximate $14 per hour that crossing guards receive for the four and a half hours they work per day, is a cost-effective solution.

Siyani has returned to his intersection, following a petition signed by parents and other community members concerned about children’s safety. What about the rest of the city’s children?

The Toronto District School Board is the largest in the country, with about 172,000  elementary school students. Under the Toronto Catholic District School Board there are 61,173 elementary students.

The total number of elementary schools in Toronto is 633, but Toronto Police Traffic Services only employ 600 school crossing guards.

Crossing guards are a necessity.

This year 11 pedestrians have died due to collisions, according to Toronto Police Services’ traffic statistics.

Speed limits and pedestrian crossing signals are not enough to protect Toronto children.

Hire and deploy more crossing guards.