By Errol Young
(December 13, 2017)
Our community finally has new subway station and Keele and Finch. Everyone is happy about that but Toronto councillors and planning staff have also created a deadly problem. Huge tanker trucks will be travelling over the subway route and stations carrying tons of deadly cargo.
It took over twenty years of advocacy to convince the city that stations in the North end of the city will eliminate the need for thousands of buses taking staff and students to and from York University. For our community, the ride downtown will be cut by about half an hour or even more depending on the time of day.
In order to ensure support of the subway route by the petrochemical tank farm (located to the North West of the Finch West station), the TTC made a bad and potentially dangerous bargain. They agreed to let super tankers each carrying around 65,000 litres of explosive gasoline travel over the subway line for two kilometres, including the York West Subway/LRT stations. In 2010, Council passed an exemption to the 1950s by-law that restricted tankers from travelling over a subway route for more than 2 kilometres; i.e., Pond Rd. to St. Regis.
The original by-law was well thought out. Councillors in the 1950s had vision. Picture a crash involving two supertankers above the intersection of Keele and Finch. Both trucks would probably burst into flames as tonnes of flammable liquid and vapours spill from the trailers and down the subway vent holes. And if this happens over the station -well its not worth imagining.
TTC says that the risk is remote and acceptable. Granted, it is remote; but acceptable? If you are a regular transit user, the image of 65,000 litres of flammable liquid above your head regularly racing down Keele Street at 65 kilometers per hour, in the control of possibly a texting or fatigued driver, might not appear acceptable. Consider the recent accident on highway 400 where intense heat devoured the road.
One easy way to reduce this risk and make this scenario even more remote and almost impossible would be to reroute the trucks. But according to Theresa Theresa Buck Construction Liaison Officer for the Toronto York Spadina Subway Extension Project, "There was extensive public consultation and review of the design plans for Finch West Station with the community." But this issue was never fully addressed at those meetings.

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