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City fighting fire code charges after Union Station construction blocked doors for concertgoers

Last Updated Jan 7, 2020 at 4:21 pm EDT

In a screen grab from a video recorded by CityNews' Brendan O'Mahony, a massive crowd is seen trying to leave Union Station via a Bay Street exit on Dec. 17, 2018. CITYNEWS/Brendan O'Mahony

The City of Toronto is fighting charges it violated the Ontario Fire Code after thousands of people clamoured to exit through barred doors at Union Station following a Mumford and Sons concert in December 2018.

The doors were blocked by construction fences placed by Bondfield Construction as part of the Union Station Revitalization Project.

The company and the City were charged with failing to maintain a means of egress free of obstruction (section (1) under the Ontario Fire Code after three of five doors were blocked, as heard in court Tuesday.

Bondfield pleaded guilty in November and was fined $5000. The City is pleading not guilty. If convicted, it could face fines of up to $100,000.

Bondfield did not file an “area execution plan” with the city before blocking off the doors, said Frank Molinari, the project director for the city. The plan would have allowed the city to consult with stakeholders like Metrolinx and the ScotiaBank Arena to ensure there was no anticipated increase in commuter volume, and to develop alternative plans, he said.

Molinari said Bondfield has filed 194 such plans for other parts of the project.

Andrew Burgess, outside counsel representing the City, described the chaotic situation as “just a traffic jam” in court but Chris Bendick, a prosecutor brought in from York Region to prosecute the case had a very different view.

“It’s an ocean of humanity trying to squeeze through two doors,” Bendick said.

The trial resumes tomorrow.