Will Burlington’s 2024 Budget Improve Street Safety?

By Staff

December 14th, 2023



The following statement was released this morning by Safe Streets Halton

Burlington’s council has shown where their priorities lie regarding the safety of our residents via the 2024 Budget process. Despite the advocacy of groups like Safe Streets Halton, and the support of councillors Nisan and Stolte, it was a battle to get safety investments added to the budget. In the end, there were victories for road safety, but as was seen, there are still challenges that lie ahead.

Nick Morrison delegating at Council on Safe Streets Halton

While the city has said they’ll improve active transportation (walking, cycling) during resurfacing projects, there is no committed funding for these improvements. Projects like the Plains Road West Improvements show what the city can achieve if it is willing to invest resources. As Burlington densifies and grows, the availability of safe and reliable transportation options is vital to keeping the city moving. Should these options not be available, residents can expect gridlock and more deaths and injuries on our roads. Investments in active and public transportation will create more options for travel and help alleviate congestion. However, the city needs to put up the funding to enable this vision.

Council remains hesitant to invest in safe transportation infrastructure as exemplified during the 2024 budget deliberations. Safe Streets Halton provided a grave reminder that lives continue to be altered due to road violence in the city, with over 300 reported injuries and 2 deaths in 2023 according to data from Halton Regional Police. Despite this and the advocacy from Councillors Nisan and Stolte, there was hesitation around the council table regarding funding a Road Safety Coordinator position. Opposed councillors believed that this coordinator would not be needed if we weren’t growing as a city, instead of recognizing that it is needed because people are dying on our streets today.

During the first debate, Councillor Kearns took the time to tell the public that even if road safety funding isn’t committed, it does not mean the city does not care. She pointed to the Plains Road improvements as a positive example before the Mayor’s proposed growth infrastructure fund was cut in half, and the safety coordinator position was later rejected. At the very end of the final debate, council opted to further decrease funding towards safe infrastructure, and move it towards covering unrelated costs and paying for the Road Safety Coordinator position. The safety coordinator will ironically rely on the very funding that was reduced.

Councillor Kearns commented that “in the real world”

Before casting her vote, Councillor Kearns commented that “in the real world” people are adjusting their plans, that plans the city has should be put on hold, and that “sometimes the best-laid plans don’t come to fruition”. Comments like this are completely disrespectful to the memories of those we’ve lost to road violence, the loved ones they were taken from, and others whose lives will never be the same. “Real world” experiences should be framed around the members of our community who are injured or killed on our streets because of the decisions (or lack of decisions) made by our elected officials.

For this budget, it is understandable that Burlington City Council was in a difficult position. However, when cuts to necessary infrastructure investments are made, this short-term relief will result in long-term costs (in this case, up to $20 million in debt payments, and more injuries). When a position that is supposed to help save lives is considered last when reassessing the budget, that does not show the public that road safety is a priority.

While this council has made further progress than those before it, there is still work to be done. City council needs to recognize and address the need for sensible and sustainable investment in the safety of its residents.

Safe Streets Halton is a community-based organization dedicated to the elimination of all traffic-related deaths and serious injuries in Halton Region. We believe you should be able to travel safely, whether you decide to walk, cycle, or drive.





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3 comments to Will Burlington’s 2024 Budget Improve Street Safety?

  • Joe Gaetan

    Budgets in themselves do little. Proper planning, street design, lighting and enforcement of existing laws are key to road and personal safety. Human behaviour, lack of patience etc., post covid is not helping.

  • Grahame

    I have yet to see any cyclist on the new path on Plains Rd.

  • Anne and Dave Marsden

    Safe Streets Halton have our empathy and we congratulate them on their ability to wade through the spin better than many who have been following Burlington council decisions for decades. . This Council immediately made it clear in their first year that safety and savking lives is not a priority and boosted a budget item from 1.1 million to take care of safety issues by September 2019 to leave safety and accessibilty issues until 2025 budget for 2026 ballooned to $3.8 million.

    Safe Streets Halton need to spread their message loud and clear prior to the next election.