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Your Right to Know
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Your Right to Know

[blockquote author=”César Palacio | Toronto City Councillor Ward 17 – Davenport | www.cesarpalacio.com” pull=”normal”][/blockquote]

Public has the right to know about Transportation of hazardous materials on CP/CNR railways within populated areas.

While railways are “Federally” regulated and the City relies on Federal Regulators to ensure safety, transparency and accountability on Toronto’s Railway lines; I’m glad to inform you that Toronto City Council did the right thing by adopting a number of recommendations put forward by myself and Councillor Matlow via “Notices of Motion” asking federal regulators to inform municipalities about the frequency of potentially hazardous materials that are daily transported through populated communities –creating serious safety concerns.

The recent derailment disaster in Lac-Mégantic Quebec has shown just how vulnerable populated communities can be to this mode of Transportation. The lack of disclosure, accountability and transparency to local communities and their elected officials, has left a lot to be desired.

It is not a secret that during the last few years there has been a tremendous surge in rail traffic carrying hazardous materials throughout Toronto, and throughout the Country –with no oversight, or public disclosure –which is totally unacceptable; and heightens residents’ sense of insecurity.

While all precautions must be taken to ensure that any movement of hazardous materials is done in the safest way possible, Toronto City Council must ensure that all alternative modes of transporting hazardous materials such as oil, chemicals, nuclear materials, etc. must be exhausted first.

A classical example of concern is the state of good repair of existing railway infrastructure along populated areas, such as, the CP rail that runs east-west across the City of Toronto between Davenport Rd and Dupont St and beyond. Toronto residents would prefer that manufactures utilize greater use of safer alternative transportation methods than the current antiquated system that transport these materials

It’s troubling to conceive that (Federal) Transport Canada and the railway Co. expect Canadians to trust –secret safety arrangements that are, or have been in place for many decades, that cause the terrible human disaster in Quebec last July

Safety and not cost should be the overriding factor

Residents across the City, province and the country have voiced their concerns on this health and safety issue to elected officials irrespectively of jurisdiction therefore, it was incumbent on Toronto City Council to support our local communities and to offer all the assistance possible to our Federal counterparts in order to move forward with initiatives that would make our city a safer place.

It is paramount that in this day and age, that public health and safety must never be compromised in any way by keeping Canadians in the dark. Federal MP’s should demand that the Commons Committee not only review the rail safety framework, but the same includes a rigorous risk assessment and mitigation process with a detailed plan of practices on rail safety that is enforceable and transparent.

Recommendations:

  • City Council request Transport Canada to review the state of good repair and safety of the existing CP rail line running between Dupont Street/Davenport, Weston Road /Mount Denis in the City of Toronto.
  • City Council request the Office of Emergency Management in co-operation with the relevant divisions and agencies to investigate the health and safety issues as it relates to the CP rail line corridor and report back to the Toronto Board of Health and Toronto City Council.
  • City Council request Transport Canada to re-examine all alternative modes of transporting hazardous materials such as oil (nuclear materials)
  • City Council request Transport Canada to look at the feasibility of re-routing trains that carry hazardous materials to avoid heavily populated centers.
  • City Council request the City Manager to report back to City Council no later than January 2015 on all Council’s requests in parts 1 to 4 above.

In essence, Canadians deserve to know the truth and can’t be kept in the dark about what is moving through their populated areas, and what safety measures are in place to ensure that hazardous materials are moved safely. Neither the City of Toronto, nor any other municipality can regulate the CP/CNR –however, collectively, we can demand that Transport Canada and railways share critical information with municipalities first responders about movement of  hazardous materials  -it is understandable that they may hesitate to share  this information with the public –God save them if another tragedy happens while the secrecy continues!

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