Frus­tra­tion over safety mounts in Wa­ter­down

Death of 10-year-old girl while cross­ing Evans Road spurs com­mu­nity fo­cus on traf­fic growth

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - NATALIE PADDON

It’s been two weeks since 10-year-old Jas­min Hanif was killed in a crash on her fam­ily’s Wa­ter­down street, and her fa­ther wants ac­tion.

Sha­keel Hanif told an emer­gency ser­vices com­mu­nity meet­ing at St. James United Church on Park­side Drive Tues­day night that while he sup­ports fu­ture traf­fic-calm­ing mea­sures, some­thing should al­ready have been done to im­prove safety given Wa­ter­down’s grow­ing pop­u­la­tion.

And if not be­fore, then cer­tainly in the wake of Jas­min’s death, he added.

“When is ev­ery­body go­ing to wake up and say we have a prob­lem in Wa­ter­down?” Hanif asked.

“It’s been two weeks. Noth­ing has been done.”

Hanif pre­vi­ously told The Spec­ta­tor he wants to see speed radar, speed bumps, signs and other mea­sures to make driv­ers avoid Evans Road.

Jas­min, 10, died af­ter be­ing struck while cross­ing the road in front of her fam­ily home on May 16.

The north­bound lanes of Evans Road were backed up even more than usual that night with mo­torists avoid­ing a clo­sure on High­way 403.

Jas­min was run­ning across the street to play when she was struck. A north­bound driver had waved her through, but when she stepped onto the road, a south­bound ve­hi­cle hit her.

Hanif asked his ques­tions to a panel that in­cluded Coun. Judi Par­tridge, po­lice Chief Eric Girt, fire Chief David Cun­liffe and paramedics Chief Michael San­der­son.

Girt told Hanif he un­der­stands his con­cerns, but it’s not just a polic­ing is­sue.

“I cer­tainly hear you on traf­fic, but I do feel it is a pub­lic re­spon­si­bil­ity,” he said, not­ing dis­tracted driv­ing is one of the ma­jor prob­lems.

Girt said he wouldn’t get into the par­tic­u­lar cir­cum­stances of that col­li­sion but stressed that the loss of any child is a “huge tragedy” and “pre­ventable.”

“I can’t even com­pre­hend your loss,” he added.

A mo­ment of silent for Jas­min was held at the be­gin­ning of the meet­ing.

Par­tridge asked res­i­dents to take home safety signs read­ing “Slow Down, Safety Zone” to to put up on their prop­er­ties in hon­our of “the beau­ti­ful jewel that we lost in our com­mu­nity.”

Par­tridge told the crowd of more than 80 peo­ple that she met with traf­fic man­age­ment and pub­lic works last week, and that im­me­di­ate short-term so­lu­tions for Evans Road should be im­ple­mented within two weeks. Longterm ini­tia­tives will fol­low.

“We have to come up with a so­lu­tion,” she said, not­ing that could in­clude look­ing at re­mov­ing the truck route des­ig­na­tion on Evans Road.

Evans, in par­tic­u­lar, is a traf­fic prob­lem be­cause it sits on the edge of Wa­ter­down and of­ten be­comes a thor­ough­fare for driv­ers speed­ing between Dun­das Street and Park­side Drive.

Evans was ru­ral, but is now sur­rounded by res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment. The nar­row, two-lane road, which has a posted speed limit of 50 km/h, has no side­walks and is lined with ditches.

Other par­ents also raised con­cerns about traf­fic is­sues in their ar­eas — from Mill­grove Side Road, to Rob­son Road, to Mill Street.

Some of these streets were iden­ti­fied as be­ing the lo­ca­tion of speed­ing com­plaints in a pre­sen­ta­tion by Act­ing Insp. Peter Hall, crime man­ager for Di­vi­sion 3.

Par­tridge told the meet­ing a re­port on road safety, in­clud­ing in Wa­ter­down, is com­ing be­fore the city’s pub­lic works com­mit­tee on June 5.

She urged res­i­dents to at­tend and share their sto­ries in sup­port of traf­fic­calm­ing mea­sures.

“I’ve been bang­ing on that ta­ble for al­most eight years, and it’s so frus­trat­ing,” she said.

GARY YOKOYAMA, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Sha­keel Hanif, right, fa­ther of Jas­min, who died af­ter be­ing struck by a ve­hi­cle in front of their Evans Road home May 16, makes an emo­tional plea to po­lice Chief Eric Girt dur­ing a meet­ing Tues­day.

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