City urges school board to drop lawsuit, apologize to fire chief for ‘baseless attack’ after fire that gutted York Memorial Collegiate

The city is urging the Toronto public school board to apologize to Fire Chief Matthew Pegg for what it calls a “baseless attack” on his integrity, and also drop its newly filed $90 million lawsuit connected to a six-alarm blaze that destroyed York Memorial Collegiate.The board, in a statement of claim filed with Ontario’s Superior Court on Wednesday, alleges that Toronto fire, police and the provincial fire marshal’s office failed to secure an initial, smaller fire at the Eglinton Avenue West high school in May 2019, which “rekindled” and led to the larger fire the next day — and then tried to cover up their mistake. The claim alleges Pegg misled the media about whether the site had been properly monitored overnight and wrongly asserted there were two separate fires. The lawsuit also claims that after learning about concerns raised by the fire marshal’s office, a report was later filed that was intended to “downplay, mislead, conceal and suppress evidence of negligence.”The lawsuit also alleges that before filing the report, Pegg met with the fire marshal’s office, which is headed by his brother, to discuss concerns about “potential liability.”None of the allegations in the statement of claim have been proven in court.In a letter to Interim Director Karen Falconer sent Thursday, City Manager Chris Murray said he was “compelled to express my extreme disappointment in the baseless and irresponsible allegations made against Fire Chief Matthew Pegg ... The city and Chief Pegg categorically repudiate the allegations contained in your statement of claim. We denounce the carelessness shown by the TDSB and its insurers in this matter.”Murray, echoing a social media post from Mayor John Tory, also said “most importantly, we reaffirm our confidence in Chief Pegg and his professionalism.”The Toronto District School Board and the city “have a long history of collaboration, co-operation and common purpose. Our respective sense of joint mission and the importance of our close relationship has never been more evident than in the current civil emergency. All of which makes this baseless attack on the integrity and professionalism of Chief Pegg, who leads the city’s emergency response management, all the more disappointing,” Murray wrote.“It is difficult not to view this spurious attack on Chief Pegg as a betrayal of our close relationship ... We ask you to consider the harm caused to Chief Pegg’s reputation by the false claims of misfeasance advanced in your lawsuit. We also ask that you reconsider maintaining those claims and consider whether a public apology is owing to Chief Pegg.”In response, the school board issued a statement later Thursday saying that “the allegations outlined in the statement of claim, which are larger than any one person, are based on an extensive and thorough investigation by the TDSB’s property insurers. They are exercising their right to recover policy payments and other costs.”It goes on to say that “as detailed in the statement of claim, much of the extensive damage could have been prevented if appropriate measures and procedures were followed by the defendants. Evidence to support the claim will be presented as part of the legal proceedings and the city will have an opportunity to present its defence.”The City of Toronto is named in the suit as it oversees Toronto fire, and the province is named on behalf of the Office of the Fire Marshal. The Toronto police services board is also one of the defendants.No one was injured in the fire, but 900 students and staff have had to be relocated from the school, which opened in 1929 and was home to several memorials to youth killed in the First World War.Kristin Rushowy is a Toronto-based reporter covering Ontario politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @krushowy

City urges school board to drop lawsuit, apologize to fire chief for ‘baseless attack’ after fire that gutted York Memorial Collegiate

The city is urging the Toronto public school board to apologize to Fire Chief Matthew Pegg for what it calls a “baseless attack” on his integrity, and also drop its newly filed $90 million lawsuit connected to a six-alarm blaze that destroyed York Memorial Collegiate.

The board, in a statement of claim filed with Ontario’s Superior Court on Wednesday, alleges that Toronto fire, police and the provincial fire marshal’s office failed to secure an initial, smaller fire at the Eglinton Avenue West high school in May 2019, which “rekindled” and led to the larger fire the next day — and then tried to cover up their mistake.

The claim alleges Pegg misled the media about whether the site had been properly monitored overnight and wrongly asserted there were two separate fires. The lawsuit also claims that after learning about concerns raised by the fire marshal’s office, a report was later filed that was intended to “downplay, mislead, conceal and suppress evidence of negligence.”

The lawsuit also alleges that before filing the report, Pegg met with the fire marshal’s office, which is headed by his brother, to discuss concerns about “potential liability.”

None of the allegations in the statement of claim have been proven in court.

In a letter to Interim Director Karen Falconer sent Thursday, City Manager Chris Murray said he was “compelled to express my extreme disappointment in the baseless and irresponsible allegations made against Fire Chief Matthew Pegg ... The city and Chief Pegg categorically repudiate the allegations contained in your statement of claim. We denounce the carelessness shown by the TDSB and its insurers in this matter.”

Murray, echoing a social media post from Mayor John Tory, also said “most importantly, we reaffirm our confidence in Chief Pegg and his professionalism.”

The Toronto District School Board and the city “have a long history of collaboration, co-operation and common purpose. Our respective sense of joint mission and the importance of our close relationship has never been more evident than in the current civil emergency. All of which makes this baseless attack on the integrity and professionalism of Chief Pegg, who leads the city’s emergency response management, all the more disappointing,” Murray wrote.

“It is difficult not to view this spurious attack on Chief Pegg as a betrayal of our close relationship ... We ask you to consider the harm caused to Chief Pegg’s reputation by the false claims of misfeasance advanced in your lawsuit. We also ask that you reconsider maintaining those claims and consider whether a public apology is owing to Chief Pegg.”

In response, the school board issued a statement later Thursday saying that “the allegations outlined in the statement of claim, which are larger than any one person, are based on an extensive and thorough investigation by the TDSB’s property insurers. They are exercising their right to recover policy payments and other costs.”

It goes on to say that “as detailed in the statement of claim, much of the extensive damage could have been prevented if appropriate measures and procedures were followed by the defendants. Evidence to support the claim will be presented as part of the legal proceedings and the city will have an opportunity to present its defence.”

The City of Toronto is named in the suit as it oversees Toronto fire, and the province is named on behalf of the Office of the Fire Marshal. The Toronto police services board is also one of the defendants.

No one was injured in the fire, but 900 students and staff have had to be relocated from the school, which opened in 1929 and was home to several memorials to youth killed in the First World War.

Kristin Rushowy is a Toronto-based reporter covering Ontario politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @krushowy

Source : Toronto Star More   

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