Dear SRRA members,
The Association received the following update today from the office of Councillor Mike Layton on the Glen Rd. bridge police investigation and closure.
In response to this unfortunate situation as well as the recent temporary closure of the Sherbourne bridge under similar circumstances, the SRRA is seeking action from Councillor Layton and the City. Text from a note to the Councillor’s office is copied further below, followed by a staff member’s response.
We will let you know of any further updates on the status of the bridge.
Glen Road Bridge Investigation and Closure Update
From the Office of Councillor Mike Layton:
City staff initiated its response to the fire on Friday, May 1. Due to investigation by police into the fatality, inspectors could not properly assess the fire damage to the bridge on Friday evening.
Some preliminary and limited information was collected that included deformation of 2 main girders due to the heat of the fire. Based on this information, ECS requested Transportation Services to close the bridge to vehicular traffic until an up close detailed inspection of the damage could be conducted.
In order to complete a detailed inspection, Transportation Services has engaged a contractor to remove hazardous waste that is required to occur to enable inspectors to safely re-enter the site. This site has some challenges that will extend the duration of the clean-up for up to 2-3 weeks. Steep slopes and adjacent private properties pose significant accessibility issues for cranes and other mechanical equipment needed to facilitate the work.
ECS and TS will work closely together to make sure that the bridge inspection occurs immediately following the clean-up. The bridge will remain closed to vehicles, but open to pedestrians and cyclists, until the inspection and subsequent analysis of the damage can take place.
Call for Action by the City from the SRRA
We have now had two major bridge closures in our neighbourhood because of potential structural damage resulting from major fires at encampments beneath the bridges. The fires burned out of control because massive amounts of garbage were allowed to accumulate over many months.
There are two pieces to this puzzle that are crying out for City and police action:
- The easy part is simply to never allow encampments in the immediate area of critical infrastructure or other property that could be damaged;
- The harder part is that we as a broader community must do better in lending support to the homeless so that they don’t end up in horrible encampments surrounded by piles of waste.
In our view, this issue has now become a top priority that must be addressed urgently. We acknowledge and understand that addressing Covid-19 is the city’s main focus of attention at this time, but now we have a situation where a person has died under suspicious circumstances, and major, critical transportation links have been severed, causing disruption to many people inside and outside our community.
We would like to get this issue on the agenda in the very near future.
Follow-Up Response from Councillor Mike Layton’s Office
As we are in a State of Emergency, all work is based on its relationship to Covid 19. Many staff have been re-deployed and so divisions cannot carry out the regular work they used to conduct prior to Covid. Those that are able, albeit with reduced staff, are carrying out essential work. Encampments are not being cleared and individuals are permitted to live rough in ravines and parks until such as time, housing can be procured for them. Once housing is procured, the City clears the area. The shelters and respite centers are doing their best to accommodate individuals but have distancing protocols, therefore there will continue to be a number of residents still living rough as there is just not enough housing to accommodate the numbers.
Shelter, Support and Housing has been tireless in acquiring properties to house our residents who have no home. This is not a new issue and quite frankly, is not one that will go away until such a time that enough funding is provided for housing. Mike has been a strong advocate for affordable housing but even so, it has not been enough. The City needs to move in the direction that housing is a human right and it should be provided for all our vulnerable people.
You are correct, in that every resident should be outraged that a City like Toronto cannot adequately take care of its most vulnerable people. Every resident needs to be an advocate and needs to support funding for housing as part of the Covid recovery. This is really the way forward to mitigate all the concerns residents have and to more importantly, serve a part of our community that is in dire need of support.
For the time being, the City has cancelled all committee and council meetings except for those relating to Covid issues therefore, matters relating to next steps for this concern and many others will have to wait until such a time, we are all back to a somewhat new normal. At the moment, the City’s main priority is to keep our vulnerable population as safe and healthy as possible and to re-locate as many as possible into housing.
Rest assured that Mike will always advocate for more housing and will take the opportunity this pandemic has revealed to push affordable and supportive housing.
My recommendation would be to join in with other RAs and write letters to the Mayor and the Covid Recovery Task force to advocate on behalf of our residents without homes for housing funding.