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City closes pathway behind Scarborough school after boy killed

Duncan Xu was struck by vehicle outside Kennedy Public School

Scarborough-Mirror Mar 06, 2018 Andrew Palamarchuk 
Boy struck

A makeshift memorial is set up at the spot where an 11-year-old boy was struck and killed by a vehicle in Scarborough on Tuesday, Feb. 27. – Dan Pearce/Metroland

The city has temporarily closed a pathway behind a Scarborough school in response to last week’s death of an 11-year-old boy.

Duncan Xu, a Grade 6 student at Kennedy Public School, is believed to have taken the pathway that connects the south end of the school to Canongate Trail at about 3:30 p.m. Feb. 27.

The boy was then struck and killed by a northbound minivan while crossing Canongate at Ockwell Manor Drive.

“He was going home,” said Councillor Jim Karygiannis (Ward 39, Scarborough-Agincourt). “The child unfortunately chose to go across the street at Ockwell Manor. There’s no crossing guard there, and that’s where the child got hit.”

Police haven’t confirmed that the boy did in fact use the pathway.

Karygiannis said he’s “90 per cent certain” the boy “bolted out of the pathway” and then onto the street.

Local residents along with school and city officials held a meeting Thursday evening where it was decided that the pathway be temporarily closed, the councillor said.

City workers on Monday put up a snow fence to temporarily close the walkway.

Not everyone, however, supports the idea, and some have voiced their opposition on social media.

Karygiannis said the city is “working on different options” that will be put forward to community council in April. One option being considered is a stop sign at Canongate and Ockwell Manor; another is speed humps along Canongate.

“There are people that are cutting through the subdivision in order to avoid Kennedy (Road) and Steeles (Avenue),” the councillor said.

Kennedy Public School principal Frank Liu described Duncan as a “well-liked boy” who loved to read.

“He was always smiling,” Liu said. “His teacher recounted that as he left school (Feb. 27) he was laughing, and I think that for so many of the students and staff who will miss him very dearly that’s how we saw Duncan and how we will remember Duncan.”

Duncan came to Canada in the summer and started attending Kennedy Public School in September.

There have been recent traffic safety initiatives put in place at the school, located on Elmfield Crescent southwest of Kennedy and Steeles.

In December, Elmfield was turned into a one-way street during the school rush hours, 8 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. And on Feb. 21, a kiss-and-ride program was started at the school to reduce parking on Elmfield.

“As parents arrive, they can simply drive up and a teacher is on duty with student safety patrollers trained by the Toronto Police (Service) to escort kindergarten-age kids to the supervised fenced yard as well as to get the kids to the backyard where again they’re supervised by teachers so that parents don’t have to park,” Liu said. “It was a nice partnership of everyone trying to make the school area safer.”

A crossing guard is also stationed at Elmfield and Canongate.

“We do announcements to encourage students to cross (with) the crossing guard or at controlled intersections,” Liu said.

Karygiannis noted that closing the pathway was an option he explored in the past.

“I put the proposal in front of the school, I put the proposal in front of the ratepayers’ association, and they said no. They wanted it open,” he said.

Liu said he didn’t know anything about the previous proposal.

“But at the same time, if there’s anything that can improve safety we would certainly support that,” he added.

No charges have been laid in the collision. The investigation is ongoing.

“The direction of travel for the child crossing the street has not been confirmed,” Toronto police Const. Stibbe said. “We are seeking witnesses.”

This is the city’s 13th fatal collision of the year.