Watch above: Why a community group says a TTC garage will put ‘lives at stake.’ Mark McAllister reports
TORONTO – A TTC garage slated to be built in Scarborough will put the lives of more than 7,000 people at risk, according to a community group adamantly opposed to the construction.
The TTC has yet to begin the project – and is facing an $101 million budget shortfall – but hopes to build a 26,000 square foot storage building for close to 250 buses near McNicoll Avenue and Kennedy Road.
But the group, composed of residents living nearby, are afraid of the effect the building may have on the neighbourhood, including a nearby long-term care facility.
The group issued a press release prior to their Monday morning press conference stating 180,000 litres of fuel would be stored in the garage and attached a photo from an explosion at a biofuels plant in Rio Valley, New Mexico in May. No one was injured by the explosion in New Mexico.
“Nobody can guarantee whether there will be an explosion at the facility or not but this is the scene that will happen if there is an explosion at the facility, windows are going to shatter,” Dr. Lisa Chan said at the press conference.
“What they’re going to have is, they’re going to have a sudden death of heart attack, they’re going to have a sudden death of suffocation, they’re going to have a sudden death of burns. Will we want to put ourselves in this position?”
The Coalition Against McNicoll Bus Garage implored readers of the press release to “help prevent another tragedy.”
The release also included warnings of “voices from the Bamburgh community.”
“You can beautify the garage and you can comply with the most stringent government standards. Even with the most sincerest of intentions and diligent efforts, you cannot stop a tiger from being a tiger. You cannot take away its nature. It is the nature of the beast to attack and ultimately kill; a tiger will not be controlled!”
WATCH: Dr. Lisa Chan expresses her opposition to the TTC garage slated to be built in Scarborough.
TTC Chair Maria Augimeri however insisted the fuel would “not be a hazardous issue” and dismissed the environmental and zoning issues.
“There will be a maximum of 40 standard buses, if we put articulated buses in there the number will be about 30 in fact and, thirdly, they’ll be going out in off-peak periods,” Augimeri said.
The 19-acre lot is zoned for ‘employment heavy industrial’ – which means, anything from pesticide or fertilizer manufacturing to synthetic rubber manufacturing can take place on the property.
The TTC has already changed some aspects of the project in an attempt to make it more amenable to the broader community including moving the fuelling lanes and diesel tanks to the east side of the building to reduce noise and shield the residents of the nearby long-term care facility.
The projected $181 million garage will be the TTC’s ninth in the city and should improve bus service in the area as buses won’t have to drive as far to get to their route.
“The need is great. The staff have identified the need for the McNicoll bus garage as one of their biggest needs. It will take buses so long to travel to and from the other storage facilities which are over-capacity right now – we need the bus storage in the Scarborough area today,” Augimeri said.