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City, construction company charged in Union Station overcrowding last December

Last Updated Feb 28, 2019 at 5:41 pm EDT

Toronto Fire has laid charges against the City of Toronto and Bondfield Construction following a dangerous overcrowding incident last December at Union Station.

As CityNews first reported back on Dec. 17, thousands of people were forced to exit the north side of the Bay Street walkway through a single open door following a Mumford and Sons concert at Scotiabank Arena. Three other doors were closed and blocked off by construction barriers.

“It was madness,” said CityNews’ Brendan O’Mahony, who was caught in amongst the crowds in what was described as a panic-inducting scene.

“There were just hoards of people and as soon as you started walking down there was no way to turn back … [people] were saying ‘there’s only one door open’ and they were quite panicked.”

Two of the three doors had been blocked by Bondfield due to concrete having been poured earlier in the day. While that process is not unusual, Toronto’s chief communications officer Brad Ross says the company did not give sufficient notice on the door closures so that alternate plans could have been put in place to re-route pedestrian traffic and avoid the type of overcrowding that was seen.

While being struck in massive overcrowding can be annoying, Toronto’s deputy fire chief Jim Jessop says the bigger issue is what could have happened if there was an emergency.

“Had there been any type of incident, whether a fire or any other type of incident requiring a quick evacuation, we could have had a significant number of injuries.”

Following a review, Toronto Fire inspectors determined there were reasonable and probable grounds for a charge under the Ontario Fire Code.

The penalties for violations under the Code can run up to $50,000 and/or a year in jail for individuals and up to $100,000 for a corporation.