Mayor Miller, Deputy Mayor Shelley Carroll

City politicians blame homeowners for living too close to exploding propane facility

By —— Bio and Archives--August 11, 2008

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imageEven as they were being evacuated from the danger zone, residents of a north Toronto neighbourhood forced out by a series of powerful explosions at a propane storage facility early Sunday morning were being blamed for buying homes encroaching an industrial area.

  Sunrise Propane, scene of the blast site, given permission to store propane in 2006, has been operating for a decade near Keele and Wilson, just south of Downsview, home of the Pope John Paul II visit in 2002.

Many of the neighbourhood homes across the street from the propane facility at 54 Murray Road have been there for five decades.

  There is no way homeowners who bought in the area could have known that a propane facility would move in across the street 50 years later.

  Residents awakened by the horrific blast in the wee hours of Sunday morning are still in hotels and emergency centers as of this morning.

  Injuries sustained in the blast were described as minor.  But 25-year-veteran fire fighter, District Chief Bob Leek, was pronounced dead at Humber River Regional Hospital after colleagues failed to revive him with Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) at the scene.

  Speaking via teleconference from Vancouver where he is on summer holidays, Toronto Mayor David Miller told reporters Sunrise Propane had been built according to zoning bylaws which were established before Toronto was amalgamated in 1998—in other words before his time as Chief Magistrate.

  Each of the former six municipalities, which merged through amalgamation into a megacity, continued to operate under their own zoning bylaws.

  “This facility was allowed under zoning (bylaws) that have been there for well over a decade—I suspect for a very long time,” Miller said.  (Sun Media, August 10, 2008).

  Acting Deputy Mayor Shelley Carroll, who seems to blame area homeowners for living too close to the facility on television, said Sunrise Propane first got approval to store propane in 2006.

  While Miller and Carroll were fending off criticism by blaming amalgamation and area residents, City News did its homework and determined that the plant has only been in the neighbourhood for about five years.  By anybody’s math, that’s well after the cited amalgamation.

  Incredibly Mayor Miller stresses the importance of not jumping to any premature conclusions: ”We need to wait and see exactly what the cause of the explosion was.”

  One can imagine the shout of some 10,000 affected city residents: “Propane was the cause of the explosion, Your Worship!”

  For its part, the Propane Gas Association of Canada assures that all its members—including Sunrise—are required to meet stringent regulations to ensure these kinds of things don’t happen.

  The Association ascertains all employees are fully trained in handling the explosive material and equipment to federal and provincially set standards that production storage and transportation of propane meet strict safety standards. (Media release here).

  Among the estimated 10,000 residents evacuated from the area, some people will be demanding to know why did the City of Toronto permit potentially dangerous materials to be added to a location right across the street from a residential area.

  For Councillor Shelley Carroll to blame the residents for purchasing homes close to Sunrise Propane tells the story that she must have believed the propane facility was not safe in the first place.

  As one resident affected told Canada Free Press, “It’s no wonder so many people have lost any respect for politicians.”

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Judi McLeod -- Bio and Archives | Comments

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Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years’ experience in the print media. A former Toronto Sun columnist, she also worked for the Kingston Whig Standard. Her work has appeared on Rush Limbaugh, Newsmax.com, Drudge Report, Foxnews.com.

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