Dupont de­rail­ment re­port fol­lowed by an­other de­rail­ment

Last year, a CP Rail train de­railed and spilled 3,000 litres of fuel in an area pegged by de­vel­op­ers as the city’s next big condo cor­ri­dor

North Toronto Post - - Contents - –– Adam Stein­berg

Two cars from a Canadian Pa­cific Rail­way ( CP Rail) train were de­railed at the cor­ner of Dupont Street and How­land Av­enue on Aug. 24, 2017 –– al­most a year af­ter a train de­rail­ment at nearly that ex­act spot re­sulted in two CP Rail trains col­lid­ing and spilling fuel around the neigh­bour­hood. Mean­while, the City of Toronto and de­vel­op­ers are em­broiled in a dis­pute over how to de­velop the land around the tracks.

There are cur­rently eight pro­posed ap­pli­ca­tions for res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment that nearly en­com­pass the area, ac­cord­ing to a risk as­sess­ment and man­age­ment study by Hatch Mott Mac­Don­ald.

“The [lo­cal res­i­dents] want the city to be tak­ing mea­sures or putting mea­sures in place that will re­spond to safety con­cerns of the po­ten­tial for a train de­rail­ment on this stretch of the CP line,” said Barry Brooks, se­nior plan­ner, City of Toronto, Com­mu­nity Plan­ning Di­vi­sion.

Although there were no re­ports is­sued on the lat­est train de­rail­ment at press time, res­i­dents of the An­nex have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of what hap­pened in Au­gust 2016.

A re­port by the Trans­porta­tion Safety Board of Canada, re­leased on Aug. 1, 2017, la­belled the 2016 in­ci­dent as a “hu­man er­ror.” It ac­knowl­edges sleep de­pri­va­tion for the en­gi­neer and con­duc­tor as well as the con­duc­tor’s un­fa­mil­iar­ity with the track. It also ad­dresses the need to up­date tech­nol­ogy to en­sure stop sig­nals are fol­lowed.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, a CP Rail train trans­port­ing diesel fuel left the Scar­bor­ough yard at 5 a.m. The crew con­sisted of a lo­co­mo­tive en­gi­neer and a con­duc­tor.

The en­gi­neer only had a few hours of sleep the night be­fore, and the con­duc­tor had been sleep­ing in his car for the past few days while look­ing for ac­com­mo­da­tions in Toronto. Con­cerns were also raised about whether the con­duc­tor was fa­mil­iar enough with the neigh­bour­hood’s track, given his ir­reg­u­lar em­ploy­ment his­tory with CP Rail.

Ev­ery­thing seemed to be go­ing rel­a­tively smoothly un­til they received a call warn­ing them of a po­ten­tial tres­passer on the tracks near How­land Av­enue. They continued main­tain­ing speed while keep­ing an eye out for that tres­passer. Ap­prox­i­mately 15 min­utes from de­par­ture, while trav­el­ling around 46 miles per hour on a right-hand turn, they missed a warn­ing sig­nal to stop. This par­tic­u­lar warn­ing sig­nal is known to have a short sight­line of only around 860 feet.

Shortly af­ter, the en­gi­neer of CP Rail Train 235 ob­served Train 118 head­ing east­bound, com­ing from the Lea­side and Rosedale area, and spot­ted the sub­se­quent stop­light they were ap­proach­ing. The en­gi­neer im­me­di­ately hit the emer­gency brake to no avail. Train 235 clipped the tail end of train 118 on the cross­over track, caus­ing a de­rail­ment and spilling 2,500 litres of diesel fuel near How­land Av­enue, just off Dupont Street.

A cou­ple years prior to the Dupont de­rail­ment, the City of Toronto had com­mis­sioned a re­port ti­tled Dupont Street Re­gen­er­a­tion Area Study (DSRAS). The re­port, ef­fec­tive Au­gust 2014 and later in­cor­po­rated into the city’s of­fi­cial plan, out­lines tak­ing pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sures when it comes to the de­vel­op­ment of Dupont Street, as well as safety mea­sures re­lated to the nearby train tracks. The guide­lines are as fol­lows: build­ings can be no more than nine storeys in height and must have mixed res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial use. They can be no less than 20 to 30 me­tres from the rail­way track and must have a 2.5me­tre-high berm with a noise wall.

One pro­posal, sub­mit­ted by Bianca Con­dos by Tridel, is for a nine-storey mixed-use condo on 420 Dupont St. Jim Ritchie, ex­ec­u­tive VP of sales and mar­ket­ing at Tridel, said he sup­ports the city’s de­sign cri­te­ria, par­tic­u­larly the use of green space and multi-pur­pose build­ings.

“It’s a great part of the city, and we wanted to be a part of that rede­vel­op­ment,” Ritchie said. He added, “The rail­way has been there an aw­ful long time, and it has op­er­ated, for the most part, rea­son­ably well. We have to take cer­tain pre­cau­tions, which we are ab­so­lutely do­ing, but we are very happy to be de­vel­op­ing in this lo­ca­tion.”

Not all de­vel­op­ers are on board with these pre­cau­tions. Ac­cord­ing to a re­quest for ac­tion re­port pre­pared by city staff, dated March 2017, the land pur­chased on 344–358 Dupont St. doesn’t have enough green space for the 20me­tre set­back.The de­vel­oper, Freed De­vel­op­ments, tried to ne­go­ti­ate al­ter­na­tives with Toronto City Coun­cil, such as in­stalling a crash wall, but ul­ti­mately reached an im­passe. Freed De­vel­op­ments has also pro­posed the build­ing to be 19 storeys high.

“It does not rep­re­sent good plan­ning and is not in the pub­lic in­ter­est, and for these rea­sons City Coun­cil should di­rect the City So­lic­i­tor and ap­pro­pri­ate City staff to at­tend the On­tario Mu­nic­i­pal Board in op­po­si­tion to the pro­posal,” a staff re­port from the City of Toronto reads.

Freed De­vel­op­ments did not re­spond to mul­ti­ple re­quests for com­ment.

“The re­al­ity is, the rail­way has been there for 100 years. The mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties en­croach closer and closer to the rail line,” co-chair of the An­nex Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion Henry Wiercin­ski said. “This has noth­ing to do with an­tide­vel­op­ment. It’s a ques­tion of ap­pro­pri­ate de­vel­op­ment, and Freed’s thing at 19 storeys is just com­pletely over the top.”

The DSRAS notes that de­vel­op­ers have a “civic re­spon­si­bil­ity” to meet the needs of the gen­eral pub­lic, which means ad­her­ing to both the safety and de­sign guide­lines, ac­cord­ing to Brooks. The On­tario Mu­nic­i­pal Board is ex­pected to rule on Freed De­vel­op­ments’ pro­posal by Septem­ber.

“This has noth­ing to do with an­tide­vel­op­ment. It’s a ques­tion of ap­pro­pri­ate de­vel­op­ment.”

Clock­wise from left: the Aug. 2016 train de­rail­ment; Barry Brooks; an artis­tic ren­der­ing of the Bianca Con­dos by Tridel

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