Tragedy prompts fence repairs along Mississauga's Milton GO line, but many trespass points still pose a risk
Photos by Natasha O’Neill/The Pointer

Tragedy prompts fence repairs along Mississauga's Milton GO line, but many trespass points still pose a risk

There are at least six separate areas along the Milton GO Train corridor with fencing issues. Areas in residential Streetsville and along Dundas Street have no fences along industrial areas or cut-out portions where trespassers cross.

Last month a group of young children followed a butterfly onto the train tracks of the Milton GO line, which is owned and operated by Canadian Pacific (CP) Rail.


The red circle above is where the fatal accident happened on July 26.

(Graphic Natasha O’Neill/The Pointer


Two sections of chain-link fence on either side of the tracks had large openings, allowing the children to follow the insect.

The innocent act ended with the youngest child, now identified as four-year-old Mitchell Nwabuoku, dead. According to media reports she froze on the tracks as the oncoming GO train blared its horn. At 7:40 p.m. emergency responders were called to the area. Nwabuoku was pronounced dead shortly after.

The accident happened near the Dundas Street bridge, where Hensall Circle loops underneath. Industrial spaces, warehouses and small businesses line the south side of the tracks. Two auto body shops share a fence with the railway and look out to the north side where high-rise residential buildings stand.

In the days that followed CP crews were seen patching up the fences in the area. As previously reported by The Pointer, the owner and operators of the train corridors are the ones responsible for ensuring fencing is safe.

According to the Railway Safety Act, CP is responsible for installing and maintaining fencing on this line.

CP was asked about its inspection of fences and if the organization was aware this section of the corridor is a high trespassing area due to gaps in the barriers.

A spokesperson said in an email, “We'd reiterate that in collaboration with Operation Lifesaver, law enforcement agencies, governments and communities, CP continuously works to promote all aspects of railway safety.”

Operation Lifesaver says in 2022 there have been 27 fatalities related to trains across the country. In total 102 incidents involving railway crossings and trespassing have been recorded by the organization so far this year.

In the last decade 1,055 trespassing incidents have resulted in 681 deaths and 303 serious injuries. Dangerous track crossings over the last ten years have resulted in 2,662 incidents recorded by OL with 345 ending in a fatality and 404 serious injuries.

Transport Canada is responsible for oversight of the Milton GO line because CP is a federally regulated rail company. A spokesperson said in an email Transport Canada carries out inspections in Mississauga each year.

“The City of Mississauga and the Canadian Pacific Railway share responsibility for safety. As per the Railway Safety Act, federally regulated railway companies and road authorities are responsible for the maintenance and safety of their infrastructure,” the spokesperson wrote. “The railway and municipalities have its own obligation to routinely monitor for non-compliance and safety issues, and they would also be responsible for addressing any issues identified by Transport Canada during regulatory inspections.”

A spokesperson for the City of Mississauga said promoting education and safety around tracks is a priority.

“In addition to education campaigns regarding rail safety, the City also ensures that it meets its obligations regarding rail safety at road-rail grade crossings and responds to any issues or concerns raised by a Transport Canada Railway Safety Inspector’s Notice or Order,” the City spokesperson wrote in an email.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) announced it, along with CP and Metrolinx, is investigating the incident.

“We are still gathering information and assessing the occurrence,” a TSB spokesperson told The Pointer in an email. “A decision to investigate or not will follow once preliminary analysis of information has been completed.”

A resident living in the nearby Peel condominium building said the section of fence had been open for at least two years and her dog almost escaped onto the tracks.

The community is still mourning the death of Nwabuoku, a tragedy many residents say could have been avoided.


Large sections in Streetsville have no fences. Areas The Pointer visited along the tracks were easily accessible.

(Natasha O’Neill/The Pointer)


Taïssa Hrycay, Eastern Regional Coordinator for Operation Lifesaver (OL), an organization educating Canadians on the dangers of railways, told The Pointer the goal is to have no rail-related deaths across Canada.

“We're really trying to get the message out there, so people can see what all of the situations can be where a tragic accident can happen, or even a death, Hrycay said. “Our goal is to get the number down to zero.”

She explained that in most rural settings road intersections may have lights but no crossing arms to block traffic. This puts the onus on individuals to look and listen before crossing.

“We're trying to educate and really raise awareness for people in different situations,” Hrycay said. “We're trying to really attack this from all angles and just make sure that people realize it's not just someone in a car at a crossing.”

Given Road


(Natasha O’Neill/The Pointer)


About a kilometre from the tragic incident in late July, another section of fence is cut open and being used as a trespassing point. Tucked behind a community pathway, the human-sized opening appears to have been made so trespassers can commute over the tracks.

The quiet cul-de-sac of Given Road is abruptly cut off by the rail corridor. The north side is a continuation of residential homes with backyards lining the opposite side of the fence. The south side is Dundas Street which is framed by businesses, restaurants and vehicle activity.

East of Given Road a pedestrian pathway links to a trail that goes underneath the tracks connecting the two residential communities.

Hrycay said that despite the regulations of maintaining fences falling to the owner/operator of the corridor everyone should be involved in train safety.

“The messaging that Operation Lifesavers had about rail safety [is it] being the shared responsibility with the railways and municipalities as well as the individuals,” she said.


A pedestrian pathway links the dead-end of Given Road, heading west and eventually crossing the tracks underneath.

(Natasha O’Neill/The Pointer)


Metrolinx trains run along the corridor daily, but the provincial transit agency is not responsible for the maintenance of the Milton line railway. The organization owns about 69 percent of the train network it operates on. The segments which Metrolinx owns dictate what track maintenance and adjacent properties it must take care of.

A 2013 fencing guidelines report from Metrolinx identifies its priorities for fencing along its corridors.

It highlights areas of “high trespass” and the need to install “upgraded fences” to deter this activity.

“Railway right of way access control requirements were initially set out in the Railway Act of 1868, which has since been repealed,” reads a blurb by Transport Canada in the Metrolinx report. “The Act and subsequent amendments required railway companies to erect and maintain fences on each side of the railway.”


Standfield Road


(Natasha O'Neill/The Pointer)

Industrial warehouses line the rail tracks on the eastern edge of Mississauga. Given the history of transporting goods and being a hub close to the airport, this portion of Dundas Street is a hive of activity. Portions of the corridor are heavily guarded with fences and most roadways cross underneath to prevent vehicle interactions. Standfield Road intersects with the tracks with lights and rail arms. Less than 100 metres from the intersection, fences along the tracks are in poor condition allowing people to cross the railway.

Behind a multipurpose building labeled on Google Maps as Standfield Studios, fencing is falling over and portions are missing.

The rusted wire is mentioned in Metrolinx’s report as a “minimum standard” for fencing.

“Post and Wire fencing is generally considered as the minimum standard and is primarily used in rural areas or along the side of highways since these areas generally have the lowest risk of trespassing and vandalism,” the report explains.

This portion of track is open and within proximity to an urban section of Dundas Street, a busy east-west pedestrian and vehicular road in Mississauga.  


The railway crossing at Standfield Road is heavily used by vehicles.

(Natasha O’Neill/The Pointer)


The area is detached from residential neighbourhoods but still poses a safety concern to trespassers. It is unclear if fencing regulations between industrial and residential areas are different under CP’s standards.


Emby Drive


(Natasha O'Neill/The Pointer)


As the railway passes through Mississauga looping north toward the community of Streetsville, the majority of the tracks are blocked off by private yards. Major throughways, like Mavis Road, avoid the tracks by passing underneath.

According to the Transportation Safety Board, about 13 percent of incidents in 2021 involved either a pedestrian or vehicle crossing the tracks. This is below the 15 percent average of the previous 10 years. Trespassing incidents have risen according to TSB data.

“Trespasser fatalities totalled 42 in 2021, up from 40 in the previous year and above the 10-year average of 40,” the TSB website states.

At Streetsville GO Station, multiple fences are in place to deter people from crossing tracks. A few hundred metres north on Emby Drive, auto body shops line the tracks with residential units on the other side. The area is eerily similar to where Nwabuoku lost her life along Dundas, except this section of track has no fences on the industrial side. 


(Natasha O’Neill/The Pointer)


Metrolinx’s guidelines explain chain link fencing is the standard and has been adopted in urban/suburban areas and placed on the property line.

“In certain cases the height of the chain link fencing may be increased by 2 feet (to 8 feet) to deter trespassing and illegal dumping,” the agency’s report states. 


Queen Street South


(Natasha O’Neill/The Pointer)


A short distance away, a strip mall with a bowling alley, restaurants and a convenience store are located near the tracks. The commercial strip is connected by Queen Street South at the front and an extension of Broadway Street that turns into William Street at the back.

While it is away from a residential area, the open tracks could be tempting to the nearby youth or children who frequent the stores along the road. Shrubs offer some deterrence but with a retirement home and future residential units lining the other side, the dried plants won’t stop determined trespassers.

When nature creates problems for fencing it raises questions about how these rail corridors should be protected. 


This portion of fence is no longer attached, and in the winter the greenery will not exist.

(Natasha O’Neill/The Pointer)


The retirement home is connected by a small pedestrian pathway that leads to Rutledge Road.


Rutledge Road


(Natasha O’Neill/The Pointer)


It’s a small residential street that follows the tracks north. Many of the small bungalows face the train corridor and see the backyards of other homes on the opposite side. Fences along this street are small and many portions have fallen apart.

Similarly, the fencing is what Metrolinx described as the “minimum standard.”

The tallish grass does not act as a barrier between the roadway and the tracks. Unlike other areas, an intersection with lights and a rail arm is a short distance from the homes, making it a safer crossing option.

“When you think of the average freight train travelling, say, at 100 kilometres an hour…It requires about two kilometres to be able to stop. That's the equivalent to around 18 football fields,” Hrycay said. “The train cannot stop on a dime.”

It is clear trespassing doesn’t always involve people trying to get across the tracks, the rail corridor itself is often the destination. Inadequate fencing allows risk takers to tempt fate.

Metrolinx took action when a portion of the Lakeshore West Line was attracting “thrill seekers.” The corridor passes over the Credit River via a 60-metre bridge. The transit agency said in 2021 over the long weekend in May, 160 people were removed or prevented from accessing the bridge.

To deter people further, the organization upgraded to an eight-foot, anti-climbing fence difficult to cut or damage.

TSB reports in 2021, Ontario accounted for 55 percent of trespasser accidents, followed by British Columbia with 17 percent.

“In 2021, the proportion of trespasser accidents that were fatal (66 percent) was above the 10-year average of 64 percent,” the TSB report highlights. 


William Street


(Natasha O’Neill/The Pointer)


The dead-end street stops behind an industrial area with more construction-based businesses. On nearby James Street, there are a few townhouses. The chain-link fence stops abruptly with open portions of track. The opposite side has dense forest but beyond the trees is Dolphin Senior Public School.

This area could be a high trespassing point with students on the William Street side of the track attending the school. The easy-to-cross corridor with no fence or signage has no deterrents for residents in the area.

OL launched an awareness campaign aimed at youth between the ages of 13 and 24 called “seriously read the signs.”

The organization, working with government bodies and railway operators, hopes education will prevent deaths or accidents from occurring.

Filling the gaps along Mississauga’s numerous rail corridors might help prevent another tragedy from taking place.



Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @taasha__15

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