Some eastern Ontario mayors say they’re disappointed with how the province has so far responded to their request for changes to highway safety rules following a fatal 30-vehicle crash on Highway 401 last winter.
A group of 10 mayors met Monday with representatives from Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation (MTO) to talk about the March 14 crash, which caused a dangerous chemical spill, closed the highway for more than a day and left a tractor-trailer driver dead.
Brett Todd, the mayor of Prescott, Ont., told CBC Radio’s All in a Day the group had hoped the province would come armed with political solutions that could possibly prevent future crashes of that scope.
Instead, he said, the meeting didn’t play out as expected.
“The focus of the meeting was largely on information, on emergency services, on what’s available and so forth,” Todd said.
“And while it was good [for us] to establish that dialogue, there’s a real sense of frustration with the mayors in the room that we waited six months for this — and we’re really still at square one.”
Highway shut for more than a day
The pileup between Brockville and Kingston caused the highway to be shut down after fluorosilicic acid spilled from tractor-trailers.
The Kingston General Hospital said they treated 29 patients after the crash. Police described conditions on the highway at the time as a “near-whiteout.”
Monday’s meeting included representatives from the trucking industry and from the Ontario Provincial Police, Todd said, but it was missing one noteworthy invitee: Steven Del Duca, Ontario’s transport minister.
Todd said Del Duca had notified him that he wouldn’t be able to attend, and had promised a personal meeting in the near future.
While he appreciated that gesture, Todd said the MTO needs to speed things up.
“The ministry is still basically, apparently, in an information-gathering stage. And we’re already mid-September, and we’ve got another winter coming down the pipe very shortly.”
“It’s hard to believe that it took six months to get this meeting today,” he added. “There was a lot of frustration in the room.”
Solutions in New York?
Todd also said he wanted to know why Ontario’s regulations couldn’t mirror those of the state of New York, which was able to take tractor-trailers off the interstates during the March blizzard by declaring an emergency.
‘This is not going away. We’re not…