In a city so reliant on the car, will Mississauga’s speed enforcement efforts make its driving culture safer?
Mauro Sbicego/Unsplash

In a city so reliant on the car, will Mississauga’s speed enforcement efforts make its driving culture safer?

In a municipality built as a suburb with wide streets and boulevards designed for the convenience of fast travel, how can Mississauga’s leaders sell the idea of “slowing down” to residents addicted to speed?

Drivers who still routinely commute are serviced by local speed limits as high as 80 km/h between a network of 400-series highways. The major arteries feed into sprawling intersections and eventually to local streets and cul-de-sacs whose homes sit on double-wide roads.

But these gaping landscapes, like Toronto in the ‘70s, are evolving into cityscapes rich in density. Meanwhile, as this literal collision between the past and the future leads to more accidents involving drivers accustomed to speed and pedestrians trying to navigate the urbanizing city, local leaders face a challenge: how do you get residents in a place built for speed to slow down?  

Adapting the suburban environment and mindset, dominated by the car, to a more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly built form requires a culture shift that will save lives.


(The Pointer files)


A simple solution to improve road safety is the reduction of vehicles on the road, but the shift to a more transit-oriented city in a place constructed for the car will not happen overnight.  

Reducing speeds is one answer.

Using cameras on thoroughfares and neighbourhood streets can be an effective tool to help change a driving culture that is deeply entrenched among hundreds of thousands of Mississauga motorists who feel entitled to move around Canada’s seventh largest city the way they always have.

Through a recommendation to City Council on June 26, elected members authorized staff to extend the City of Mississauga’s Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) agreement for an additional five years (until July 2029). The cost of the contract extension is estimated to be $18.4 million for the supply, installation, operation and maintenance of the ASE system, also known as the city’s speed cameras. Revenue collected from penalties, projected to be $14.7 million, will significantly offset the amount property taxpayers have to cover for the extension of the contract to 2029.

The latest move by council follows the City’s Vision Zero Action Plan which outlines 99 small and large goals aimed at achieving zero fatalities and serious injuries involving pedestrians and cyclists, and also between vehicles alone, across Mississauga’s transportation network. 

“Mississauga’s road network was developed to move vehicle traffic as efficiently as possible. Over time, the city has evolved and urbanized, and the way people move has changed,” the City’s Action Plan acknowledges. “Some of the biggest opportunities for behaviour change by all road users come from altering the physical built form of the transportation network.”

It adds, “Change can be difficult to adapt to, especially when it comes to speed reductions and perceived travel times, but as the needs of our residents change and safety is prioritized, our road network must also adapt.” 

The idea of Vision Zero, a concept that originated in Sweden almost 25 years ago, is an internationally endorsed long-term goal aimed at eliminating traffic-related fatalities and injuries on local roadways. Mississauga Council opted into the plan in February 2018, ahead of Brampton which approved its own vision in June 2019.

The Vision Zero approach recognizes the transportation system “needs to be designed and operated in a way that mitigates the negative impacts of human error.”

Advocates have used data to show policies that support Vision Zero goals also help achieve better efficiency on roadways. In Mississauga, where rapid population growth over three decades and recent increases in density across certain parts of the city have created more congestion on internal thoroughfares, such policies would be welcomed by residents trying to move around as efficiently and safely as possible.  



Reports have shown even a small reduction in speed can dramatically increase a pedestrian’s chance of surviving a collision.

(City of Mississauga)


In May 2021, council passed a motion to increase the number of ASE cameras rotating within neighbourhood school area community safety zones to 22. Previously, the City approved just two cameras, with signs that warned of their impending arrival. By April 2022, all 22 cameras were operational and helped enforce posted speed limits within certain school areas.

Now, the ASE expansion program, which will roll out over the next five years, will include the existing 22 mobile cameras, plus 60 new cameras mounted on poles and other pre-existing infrastructure, which will rotate to 100 locations throughout the city. The additional cameras will expand the program to major school zones and other major roadways where known speeding concerns exist, according to the staff report. 

“These sites will be prioritized based on the severity of the speeding concern and accounting for other factors such as overall traffic volumes, the presence of sidewalks or cycling facilities, neighbourhood pedestrian generators such as schools and parks, and collision history,” the City’s report explained. 

While achieving Vision Zero in a city built for the car might seem difficult, Mississauga Councillor Alvin Tedjo said the mandate is doable, but the City must have the right framework in place, with a budget to support it. 

“We have to slowly start changing the culture of how people, drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, interact with each other on our roads,” Tedjo, who sits on the City’s Transit, Road Safety and Cycling committees, told The Pointer. He acknowledged the Vision Zero strategy introduces a number of tools including automated speed enforcement, bollards, and separated bike lanes, among others, adding that it is critical the City employs all of them, or as many as it can, in certain neighborhoods where the amount of collisions and potential collisions must be reduced. 

The goals outlined in the strategy are manageable, Tedjo says, “but there are huge gaps in the system.”

“We need more budget, we need more resources, more people, and we need to accelerate the plan as quickly as possible,” he stressed. “Part of that Vision Zero, part of the cycling master plan, is going to take decades. We need to do much more in the next few years. 

“Until you have a network that connects to each other, trails and paths and transit and all those other options connecting, then you have gaps in the system and people don't trust that where they are is as safe as they could be.”


Mississauga Councillor Alvin Tedjo says while the City is making progress on its Vision Zero strategy, more needs to be done.

(Alexis Wrigh/The Pointer files)


Tedjo says the City needs to continue to expand its speed enforcement cameras, particularly in places where accidents are known to occur. This also includes expanding designated community safety zones where the City is authorized to put cameras. He noted council will be asking the Province for support in allowing municipalities to designate those areas so that it is not just school zones that are prioritized.

The effectiveness of ASE cameras has also been called into question. Warning signs of speed cameras up ahead can help deter reckless drivers, according to Valerie Smith, director of road safety programs with Parachute, a Toronto-based non-profit that focuses on injury prevention, who also supports the organization’s Vision Zero network. She pointed to a study conducted in Toronto that found photo radar systems reduced speed significantly. 

The 2023 study conducted by the Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute for the City of Toronto found the deployment of the ASE program, which council implemented in 2020, reduced speeding near schools by 45 percent. It also found that the “percentage of drivers exceeding the speed limit decreased for nearly all sites during ASE deployment, with 36 exceptions (out of 204 locations where pre-ASE deployment data were available).” 

According to the City of Mississauga’s latest report, ASE has proven to be an effective tool at reducing motor vehicle speeds and increasing speed limit compliance. Data collected before and during enforcement periods showed an average decrease in vehicle operating speeds of 9 km/h. The data also showed drivers’ compliance with the speed limit rose by an average of 30 percent. 

The report on the areas where speed cameras are currently operating also noted that a total of 82,000 tickets have been handed out since July 2021, with the highest number of infractions on Truscott Drive west of Lorne Park Road. The staff report also found the highest ticketed speed in one of the school camera zones was 78 km/h, nearly 50 km/h over the posted speed limit – a trend that has been identified at nine different enforcement locations. 

A disturbing illustration of the dangerous driving culture in the city is the 207 offences processed to date for vehicles travelling at least 50 km/h over the posted speed limit in zones with speed radar cameras. 

Even more alarming is the number of vehicles that were caught moving at excessive speeds by cameras in zones where the limit is 30 km/h (indicating a high number of accidents in those areas or other concerns such as children in those neighbourhoods). The highest ticketed speed reported by a camera in a 30 km/h zone was 114 km/h on Mississauga Valley Boulevard west of Central Parkway East. Other cars caught by cameras in each of the 30 km/h zones with a camera included high speeds of: 111, 111, 110, 109, 108, 108, 107 and 100 km/h. More than fifty zones throughout the city with a 30 km/h limit saw high speeds of 80 km/h or higher since 2021.

In Ontario, any speed 40 km/h or more above a posted limit of less than 80 km/h; or 50 km/h and more over a posted limit of 80 km/h or higher is charged as stunt driving, a common problem across Mississauga, as Peel Police has highlighted numerous times.

Moving at 100 kilometres an hour in a 30, effectively renders a car into a weapon, advocates have pointed out.


One of the areas in Mississauga where high speeds have been a problem. 

(Google Maps)


Yet, despite data pointing to the effectiveness of speed reduction measures like photo radar, it remains a challenge for municipalities like Mississauga to change the entrenched driving culture. 

“The public pushback against (speed cameras) is quite interesting,” Smith, who also serves as the President of the Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals, told The Pointer. “We hear a lot about people complaining about them, yet the reality is, is that if you're going over the speed limit, your car is going to be flagged.”

“When, if you're in a suburban area and you're commuting throughout your city, when you're driving through those community safety zones, they have been designated community safety zones specifically because data is showing that people are driving too fast and that there is a risk factor.”

An important part of the Vision Zero mandate, Smith explained, is educating and making people aware of the damage they can do by going even a little over the posted limit. 

“If they are driving over the speed limit they may not think it's a big deal, but in fact, if you're going 10 kilometers more than you're supposed to be going and you hit a child or any pedestrian, because of sheer energy and physical force, every 10 kilometers you go over, the chances of you killing that person or seriously injuring them goes up substantially,” she explained. 

According to the Ontario Traffic Council, speed is a contributing factor in approximately one-third of fatal collisions. In 2022, Peel Regional Police reported 375 pedestrians struck by vehicles, up three percent from 2021. There is no updated data for 2023 publicly available. The City of Mississauga has also highlighted that when it comes to vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists, there is a 90 percent survival rate if the vehicle is travelling at 30 km/h, compared to only a 15 percent survival rate if struck by a vehicle travelling at 50 km/h.

Mississauga has been quietly reducing speeds city-wide in an effort to change driving habits. The default limit in the city is 50 km/h, unless posted otherwise, but these have been coming down across the municipality in recent years.

In 2023, the City of Mississauga lowered the posted speed limit to 60 km/h on all city-operated roadways that had limits posted at 70 km/h in an effort to reduce risks from collisions. The municipality does not have jurisdiction over posted speed limits on regional roads. The shift marked the second time the City initiated a change to city-wide speed limits. In 2020, the City started the Neighbourhood Area Speed Limit Project which included lowering speed limits in school zones and designating community safety zones. The City lowered all neighbourhood speeds from 50km/h to 40km/h and school zone speed limits from 40km/h to 30 km/h.

By the end of 2021, 77 neighbourhoods saw speed limits lowered from 50 km/h to 40 and more than 130 school zones had limits lowered from 40 km/h to 30.

“That's taken quite a bit of adjustment from residents,” Tedjo said. “Not everybody's happy about it. But the research shows that it's incredibly important to slow people down, especially in neighborhoods where there's a lot of either kids or older people or people walking on the street more frequently.”


As Mississauga becomes more dense the city must move toward a planning strategy that promotes alternative transportation methods.

(Alexis Wright/The Pointer)


Mississauga’s increasing density is another factor in the push behind Vision Zero. City planning in recent years has shifted to more walkable communities but the transition has its challenges, Tedjo pointed out. 

“We need to change the modality that people are using,” he emphasized. “The more mixture we have, people traveling around the city not just by car, the less cars, the fewer cars there will be on the road.”

He acknowledged that not every area in Mississauga, such as the giant Pearson Airport precinct or other industrial areas, is conducive to pedestrians and cyclists. Higher speeds in industrialized areas built for the transportation of goods is still appropriate, he explained: “we just need to make sure that we're clear on what streets we have and what their purpose is.” 

In more centralized areas, or places such as Cooksville, Port Credit and other parts of the Lakeshore corridor where pedestrians, cyclists and transit are the focus of transportation planning, council needs to prioritize policies to get cars off the road, transform the design and makeup of neighbourhoods and reduce speeds for vehicles. 

Smith echoed the importance of how we transform our cities to provide “safe, equitable and accessible routes” for people outside of the car with appropriate infrastructure to make spaces around roadways more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly. This comes in the form of physically separated cycling lanes and improved walking and trail infrastructure, along with density and design that supports efficient, predictable transit. 

“It's about shifting our focus and moving away from a car-centric community, which typically our cities have been built around in North America, to one that says ‘you know what, it's really good if people are not relying only on driving their vehicles,’” Smith said. “We have public transit. We have bicycles. Our communities are more livable if we're not monopolizing all the real estate with cars and trucks.”

For those who choose to keep driving as Mississauga urbanizes, Tedjo says they should be prepared to slow down.



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Twitter: @mcpaigepeacock

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