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  • Writer's pictureDave Shellnutt

Letter to Toronto Police Services Board re: Cyclists Targeted in High Park

Dave Shellnutt


August 8, 2022

Toronto Police Service Board

40 College St.

Toronto, ON M5G 2J3

RE: Toronto Cyclist Assaulted

Dear TPSB Chair and Members,

I am the managing partner of the Biking Lawyer LLP, lawyers for injured cyclists. We represent 3 cyclists hit by motorists at Bloor and Keele in August and September 2021, alone. Each seriously injured (fractured pelvis, fractured clavicle, and shattered knee respectively). Given our familiarity with serious injuries and road safety issues, we question the adequacy and effectiveness of the recent Toronto Police Service ticketing blitzes of cyclists in High Park.

I kindly request an urgent review of the TPS’ targeting of cyclists in High Park. In addition to reviewing the time and resources spent, tickets issued, policy rationale and command orders that led to the recent blitzes, particular attention should be paid to the following incidents:

  • July 25 - a racialized person was riding his bicycle and ticketed for trespassing in High Park by a TPS officer.

  • July 29 – a racialized cyclist was harassed by a plain clothed officer in the park who then called in uniformed units.

  • Aug 1 - a cyclist was chased and hit off her bike by a pedestrian just outside of High Park. TPS attended the scene but did not charge the assailant Patrick Stewart (an off duty TPS constable).

  • Aug 2 - TPS Sgt. Blain Young was ticketing cyclists for not stopping at stop signs in High Park when he himself failed to stop at a stop sign and hit a cyclist, damaging his bike.

    • Sgt. Young was not ticketed or charged for this HTA infraction.

    • Sgt. Young is stationed at 52 Division and makes $282,000.00 per year. Why is a high ranking and highly paid officer from 52 Division patrolling a park outside of his area and handing out traffic tickets?

With the only collision in recent weeks that I have heard being the above mentioned TPS caused collision, we ask for a determination as to whether this enforcement blitz is supported by evidence of it achieving a social good.

We request a policy review of the TPS blitzes targeting cyclists in High Park to determine if TPS resources are being properly allocated. We recommend a review of the blitzes be done alongside an assessment of the following:

  • A municipality wide review of traffic safety data and determination of hot spots where injuries and infractions most frequently occur.

  • A determination of where most serious traffic safety issues occur, what are the policies of the TPS in responding to these hot spots and in what proportion are resources being spent in those areas.

  • A review of TPS MVA and enforcement data – i.e. Tickets issued, charges laid, C.O.R.E. report driver complaints received and acted upon, collisions reported, etc.

  • A comparison of TPS enforcement operations in known areas of unsafe driving and HTA violations versus High Park.

Not only do we anticipate that an interrogation of the TPS cyclist blitz decision will lay bare the ineffectual nature of the police activity vis a vis achieving safe streets, but we fear the broader impacts on community.

We have been contacted by numerous cyclists who are concerned with the heavy-handed nature of TPS officers descending on High Park. The TPS blitzes have now led cyclists, many from groups already experiencing disproportionately uneven policing, to feel unsafe and choosing to avoid cycling through High Park.

We anticipate that a review of the ongoing harassment of cyclists will prove to not be an example of the adequate and effective provision of police services in Toronto.

Dave Shellnutt

Lawyer & Advocate

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