Release: Watson to increase funding for community road safety by $6 million

Today Jim Watson announced that he would strengthen community road safety initiatives by investing an additional $6 million over four years. This includes providing more than six times more funding for Safer Roads Ottawa and creating a new community-directed road safety fund. 

Watson_road_safety_small.jpgWatson also committed to adding 20 new red light cameras over the next four years, in order to crack down on red light runners.

“Community safety should trump driver speed at every turn,” said Watson. “I am committing to a big push on road safety by providing increased resources and direct support to our communities.”

Community road safety has been one of the most common issues Watson has heard about when knocking on doors over the last six months. He has heard loud and clear that it is time for a stronger effort on this issue at both the city-wide and community levels.

In Watson’s first term, the City of Ottawa created Safer Roads Ottawa, a formal partnership between city departments, Ottawa Police and other first responders. Since then, Safer Roads Ottawa launched campaigns and partnerships to address distracted driving, protect vulnerable road users, and combat aggressive driving. If re-elected on October 27, Watson is committing to increasing the annual Safer Roads Ottawa budget from $75,000 to $500,000.

Watson is also committing to a new $1-million annual fund, split equally between the 23 wards in the city. This fund will go towards road safety and traffic calming initiatives such as flexible sign posts, traffic calming pylons and street markings. These initiatives would also help Ottawa Police Service step up speed enforcement in residential communities by identifying areas of concern. Watson would like these funds to be invested by each ward Councillor after consultation and in direct partnership with residents, families, community associations and other groups, based on specific local needs and best practices.

For example, the City of Ottawa is partnering with local groups where planters are used for traffic calming. In this instance, the City installs the planters, however the community takes responsibility for ongoing maintenance.

“No one knows local community roads better than the families who live on them and use them every day,” said Watson. “I know we will make even more progress if we work together and have community-level conversations about creating safer roads.”

The funds for these increased investments in road safety initiatives will come from provincial upload dollars. Watson has previously pledged to use upload dollars to increase funding for housing ($2 million annual increase) and for growing the economy and attracting more tourists ($600,000 annual increase).

Under Watson’s proposal, red light runners would be faced with 20 new red light cameras in the city, increasing from 33 to 53 over the next term of Council. Collisions resulting from running red lights are often more severe than other types of collisions because they usually involve at least one vehicle travelling very quickly. Also, red light running is a tremendous safety hazard for pedestrians and cyclists who are highly vulnerable when crossing an intersection.

“Police can’t be at every intersection at all times, but we can deter drivers from breaking the rules by putting more red light cameras at intersections,” said Watson. “I think this is a common sense approach that will help raise awareness and reduce aggressive driving behaviour.”

Today is the final day of special advance polls. Polls are open at three locations across the city until 8 pm: Ottawa City Hall, Ben Franklin Place and the Cumberland branch of Ottawa Public Library.

The next advance poll is on Thursday, October 9. The municipal election will be held on October 27.