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Welcome to the official Safe Rail Communities Website

Are you concerned about the increases in the shipment of crude oil and other dangerous goods by rail ? Get informed, get involved and join us in standing up for the safety and well-being of our communities. Safe Rail Communities (SRC) is a community-based initiative, started in March 2014 by neighbours in Toronto’s West end. […]

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Motions on Rail Safety:

There have been three Member Motions on rail safety adopted by Toronto City Councillors since the disaster in Lac-Megantic on July 6, 2013: MM37.56 Improving Community Safety in Toronto with regards to Dangerous Railway Cargo (Fragedakis, adopted 16July2013) MM50.39 Safety Concerns regarding the Transportation of Hazardous Materials on CP Rail Line in Toronto (Palacio, adopted […]

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Why be concerned?

The number of DOT-111 rail cars carrying crude oil and other hazardous materials in Canada has increased from 500 in 2009 to an estimated 140,000 in 2014. [1] . The DOT-111 cars used to transport these hazardous materials have a 20-year history of susceptibility to product release in an accident. [2] . The crude oil […]

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What We Can Do

Raise awareness about this issue Sign the online petition to the Government of Canada and to our City Councillors Join our mailing list for notifications and updates OR download the petitions below to collect signatures in your neighbourhood: CLICK HERE to download the petition for use in Parkdale/High Park riding (legal size) CLICK HERE to download the petition for […]

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Safe Rail Communities Upcoming Fundraiser and Public Town Hall

Safe Rail Communities Fundraiser: An Evening of Comedy

Since March 2014, Safe Rail Communities has been advocating for more safeguards and transparency with respect to the transportation by rail of dangerous goods, particularly crude oil.

Support our call for meaningful action, and join us for an evening of comedy with:
• Johnny Gardhouse
• Steve Patterson
• Rachelle Elie
• Herb Irving
• Mark Walker
• Bryan Hatt

Where: 3030
3030 Dundas Street West
When: Tuesday, June 2 Doors open 8:00pm
Show starts at 9:00 pm
Tickets $30 (includes food and show)

Safe Rail Communities Public Town Hall

Please join us for an informative meeting on this important issue with special guest and moderator, Naomi Klein, and a panel of experts:

•Ali Asgary: Disaster & Emergency Management Expert

•Christine Collins: National President, Union of Canadian Transportation Employees

•Bruce Campbell: Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

•Greg Gormick: Rail Policy Expert

Invited guests include Minister Raitt, NDP Transport Critic Hoang Mai, and Liberal Transport Critic David McGuinty. Also invited are all GTA MPs with rail in their riding, Mayor John Tory, and all Toronto City Councillors.
Where: Toronto Central YMCA 20 Grosvenor St.

Friday, 12 June 2015 from 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM (doors open 6:30 PM)

We look forward to seeing you at either of/or both the events!
Patricia & Helen
Co-founders, Safe Rail Communities

Find out if you live in the Blast Zone here

Oil Train Blast Zone » Canadian Homepage

Appearance before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure, and Communities

Since March 2014, Safe Rail Communities has been advocating for greater transparency and safeguards with respect to the transportation by rail of dangerous goods.

In the past year, we have been raising awareness, and pressing government and industry for more meaningful action on this issue.

Our efforts have included canvassing with our federal petitions, holding tables at local events, delivering presentations to local community and residents groups, writing lots of letters, and commenting in print and radio.  On April 28, 2015, we testified before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure, and Communities (TRAN).  It was a huge privilege to be invited to speak about Bill C-52 (Safe and Accountable Rail Act) on behalf of Canadians, especially given the other witnesses that day:

  1. Federation of Canadian Municipalities
  2. Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs
  3. Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
  4. Freight Management Association of Canada
  5. Canadian Transportation Agency

Here is a link to the official audio recording of the TRAN session.  It’s almost two hours long, and all of the testimony is interesting.  Our statement starts at about the 1:04 mark.  We each had 10 minutes to make our presentations.

April 28, 2015 TRAN session

Even if you or your family and friends do not live near a rail line, you might be interested to learn that even with the new minimum insurance standards set out in Bill C-52, railways do not carry enough liability insurance to cover the cost of a catastrophic event.  This means that Canadians are on the hook for any costs beyond the $1M liability insurance standard.  The estimated cost for a ‘high consequence event’ like that of Lac-Megantic is $6B US.  This figure comes from the a report by Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (a branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation), which also estimates that based on the current increase in the transportation by rail of crude oil, there will be 5-9  ‘high consequence events’ in the next 20 years.
We will be hosting a Public Town Hall on Rail Safety on Friday, June 12th, 2015  (7 pm – 9:30 pm) in the auditorium of the Toronto Grosvenor Street YMCA.  More details to come soon.
Thank you!

La longue nuit de Mégantic

Michel Huneault
La longue nuit de Mégantic

January 29 – March 13, 2015
Opening Reception Thursday January 29, 6 – 9pm, remarks at 7pm

The CONTACT Gallery is pleased to present La longue nuit de Mégantic, an exhibition by Montreal-based photographer Michel Huneault.

La longue nuit de Mégantic is the culmination of the documentary photographer’s year-long project visiting Lac-Mégantic after Canada’s deadliest train disaster in almost 150 years. In the middle of the night on July 6, 2013 a train filled with crude oil derailed in the small Quebec town creating an explosion that destroyed much of the downtown area, instantly killing 47 people.

The disaster has since been in the forefront of current national debates regarding energy transportation, safety and the environment.  However, Huneault’s interest in this story is human and intimate, with a focus on the community and the aftershock. His experience in international development and academic research on disaster and trauma, both personal and collective, has given him an insightful perspective.

The series of large-format and small photographs, predominantly of the town’s landscape, brings to mind the viewpoint of a wanderer, or stunned observer. Upon Huneault’s arrival within hours of the explosion, and subsequent visits throughout the seasons, he was able to capture an eerie calm that seemed to resonate across the community. Often at night he would return to the same streets, houses or sites, retracing the geography of the scarred place, sometimes encountering locals on a similar journey. As a result, the images convey the passing of time and evoke the emotions of loss, absence and searching, as they evolve over one symbolic year.

An accompanying single-channel video piece consists of a series of portraits and short audio interviews with community members who experienced loss and trauma.  Their stories offer an intimate glimpse into their process of mourning, the need for answers and justice, and the desire to find reconciliation.

Helen Vassilakos |

Helen Vassilakos |

Listen to SRC Podcast with Dale Goldhawk

Helen Vassilakos Goldhawk_com

Please Watch This Video

Video Rail concerns for Junction residents Toronto Star

GO train riders: Do you know what’s riding next to you?

Link to story: Toronto Star Friday September 26, 2014 Jessica McDiarmid

The transport by rail of dangerous goods is a concern not only for those living near rail lines, but also for those who commute alongside rail lines.

Many of these dangerous goods are part of the economic reality we live in, and while reducing our carbon footprint is a noble goal, it is not one likely to be achieved quickly.

So what can we do to protect our families and communities?

The first step is gathering knowledge.  There is a lot of information on this topic, and while it can be challenging to sift through, knowing that the aim is to prevent another Lac-Mégantic is a huge motivator.  Follow Safe Rail Communities on FB for current events on this matter.

Step two is to raise awareness.  Share what you learn with your family, friends, and neighbours.  Connect with your MP, and ask them for information and support.  The oversight of railway regulations is a federal matter.

Step three is to take action.  Use every possible avenue to make this an issue for the federal government.   Draft a petition on this matter, and collect 25 signatures with addresses and postal codes.  Ask your MP to submit it to the House of Commons.  The Minister of Transport must officially respond.  Seek out other groups like Safe Rail Communities, and unite to form a larger voice.

SRC is asking for more transparency and safeguards with respect to the transport by rail of dangerous goods, most especially Bakken crude, which is still a largely unpredictable entity.  Despite recent changes to railway safety, the Minister of Transport has refused to allow any Transport officials to attend community meetings since the last one on April 24th in the riding of York-South Weston.  None attended our community meeting on September 4th despite multiple invitations from our MP, Peggy Nash (NDP).  SRC also sent an official invitation to the Minister herself, but received no response.

With this summer’s passing of Bill C31 Budget Implementation Act, Canadians were again delivered a suspect omnibus bill.  This one included the repeal of sections of the both the Railway Safety Act and the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992.  These sections relate specifically to opportunities for Canadians and other interested groups to review and comment on a proposed regulation at the last stages of the regulation process, before it is enacted and published in Part II of the Canada Gazette.  SRC wrote to the Senate Committee on National Finance before its review of the bill.  While we received an official response, the bill still passed.

SRC is committed to our goal, and we will continue to seek out ways to hold our government accountable for the risk these oil tanks present to rail communities across the country.  Please connect with us.

Community Meeting on Rail Safety

As we approach the July 6th anniversary of the tragedy of Lac-Megantic, Safe Rail Communities continues to work on organizing a community meeting to raise awareness about the transport by rail of crude oil and other hazardous materials.  So far, invitations extended to CP Rail and Transport Canada have received negative replies.  Last week, SRC personally invited Minister Lisa Raitt in a letter submitted with an invitation from our MP, Peggy Nash, but we have received no reply.  However, Peggy is determined to help us make this meeting happen.  Her team has connections to other rail safety experts who can help inform us and our neighbours in the riding of Parkdale – High Park.

SRC has decided to invite the Transportation Safety Board to share information with us at this meeting, though they likely will not attend without participation from Transport Canada.  However, communicating with the TSB is one way to raise awareness on this issue from a local perspective.  We also wanted to respond to the TSB on the matter of their assessment of Transport Canada’s recent promises to improve rail safety.  SRC supports TSB’s three recommendations of January 23, 2014.  We do not want another tragedy.


Lac-Megantic Memorial


Motions on Rail Safety:

There have been three Member Motions on rail safety adopted by Toronto City Councillors since the disaster in Lac-Megantic on July 6, 2013:

MM37.56 Improving Community Safety in Toronto with regards to Dangerous Railway Cargo (Fragedakis, adopted 16July2013)
MM50.39 Safety Concerns regarding the Transportation of Hazardous Materials on CP Rail Line in Toronto (Palacio, adopted 1Apr2014)
MM50.7 Protecting our Neighbourhoods: Safety, Accountability and Transparency on Toronto’s Rail Lines (Matlow, adopted 1Apr2014)
The motion by Councillor Mary Fragedakis (Ward 29, Toronto-Danforth) included a direction to the City Manager and Director, Office of Emergency Management, and all other relevant staff to review railway safety in Toronto. The purpose of this review is to determine whether there is anything the City can do to improve public safety with regards to the transport by rail of hazardous materials through Toronto.

A report on this motion is expected to be released on May 20th in advance of its appearance on the agenda of the May 27th meeting of the Executive Committee.
You can Submit a Comment or Request to Speak on any matter being considered by a committee of Council. On this matter, all Comments can be directed to:

Secretariat Contact Kelly McCarthy
10th floor, West Tower, City Hall
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
phone: 416-392-4666
fax: 416-392-1879

Safe Rail Communities will be looking out for this report. Join us in submitting a Comment, and let our City Councillors know how important this issue is to us.

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