Vibrations from Eglinton Crosstown construction damaging their homes, area residents fear

Byron Martin’s house is now filled with Post-it notes all over his walls, but they aren’t reminders aimed at keeping his latest film project coming together.

Instead, they represent his house falling apart — marking a new set of cracks he says are due to recent construction related to the Eglinton Crosstown project. Martin says it’s had the most impact on his house of any work on the LRT line in the last few years.

“It’s just unimaginable to have to deal with the sheer shaking and vibration for eight hours a day,” the film producer said.

Martin, who is recovering from a significant operation a few weeks ago, says he was jolted out of bed at 7 a.m. earlier this month by loud machinery just metres behind his bedroom, sending vibrations through his entire home on Chaplin Crescent near Eglinton Avenue West

He says one thought has occurred to him while lying in bed at night: “Is my whole wall going to fall off?” 

Workers for Crosslinx Transit Solutions, the consortium Metrolinx hired to build the Eglinton Crosstown, were busy drilling a concrete slab that previously secured a crane. But what was even more alarming was the significant damage and separation he says he began to see on the walls of his house throughout the week.

Eglinton Crosstown construction seen on Dec 12 2012 at the intersection of Eglinton and Chaplin Cres.
Eglinton Crosstown construction underway at Chaplin Crescent and Eglinton Avenue East has created issues for residents, but they say getting answers has been difficult. (Clara Pasieka/CBC)

Susan Sperling, a spokesperson for Crosslinx, says the consortium conducted tests in response to concerns from residents of a handful of Chaplin Crescent homes and “results repeatedly verified that noise and vibration levels were within the allowable limits.” 

But that doesn’t satisfy Martin and his neighbours. They’re now calling on Metrolinx and the province to pay for a third-party engineer to look at the integrity of their houses and compensate them for any repairs they need.

Councillors call for public inquiry

Coun. Josh Matlow, who represents Ward 12, Toronto-St. Paul’s, says the homeowners’ demands are “reasonable.”

“I don’t think it’s fair that individual residents, along with small businesses, are out in some cases … thousands and thousands of dollars, if not their entire livelihoods, without any reasonable compensation,” he said.

But Martin and his neighbours say the provincial government, Metrolinx and Crosslinx Transit Solutions have not had meaningful discussions with them.

Crosslinx doesn’t agree. 

“Crosslinx and Metrolinx are committed to working with residents to ensure that we minimize and mitigate the impacts of construction,” Sperling said.

She says Crosslinx provided information and worked with residents to assure them about sound and vibration levels and offered hotels during periods of heavy noise — an offer Martin says the consortium never made to him.

Coun. Josh Matlow, who represents Ward 12, Toronto-St. Paul’s, is calling for an inquiry into the Eglinton Crosstown project. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

Matlow is calling for an inquiry into the project through a motion he and Coun. Mike Colle are bringing before city council this week. The inquiry would investigate the delays and rising costs that have plagued the project since it broke ground in 2011. But Matlow says it could also hold the agencies involved to account and get area businesses and residents the compensation they deserve.

“A transit plan that treats residents and businesses like collateral damage is not a good plan,” said Matlow.

“What these residents need is somebody to actually say, ‘I hear you, I will do something about it. I will compensate you. I will support you,’ and that’s not being done.”

Accountability from Metrolinx, province

When asked by CBC Toronto about these issues, a spokesperson for Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney did not address the questions posed, but blamed the provincial Liberals for construction taking longer than hoped and frustrating residents.

Metrolinx referred questions from CBC News to Crosslinx.

“Crosslinx will arrange for a post-construction survey of their properties to determine the cause and extent of any claimed damages” and claims will go through a formal process, Sperling said.

But Martin says he fears representatives chosen by Crosslinx to evaluate the damage may not be impartial or share all the data with residents.

Martin’s neighbour, Michael Lampel, says the lack of accountability from any of the players involved is “unacceptable”.

“The stress level for the last seven years, eight years have been off the chart,” he said.

He says nobody involved in the project has at any point offered the residents any assurance their homes were safe, despite visible signs of cracks appearing throughout the process.

Over the last seven years of construction “it was a constant running thing,” said Lampel.

“Every time there’s a crack, go fix it again,” but he says the concerns run deeper this time around.

Michael Lampel is worried the foundation of his Chaplain Crescent home might no longer be safe. (Petar Valkov/CBC)

Jamil Mardukhi, a structural engineer with NCK Engineering, which is not affiliated with the project, says while he would need to look at the houses and drilling involved, vibrations from construction can cause damage to structures close to the source.

“In a Toronto standard house with a basement, high level vibrations in a ground that can transmit vibration can cause settlement of foundations and cracking of walls and wall and floor finishes,” said Mardukhi.

Lampel says he is concerned homeowners won’t see the full extent of the damage done until the spring when they’ll see if the earth under their homes has shifted.

He says the fear that the damage might turn out to be even worse is what’s prompting him and his neighbours to demand a report from an independent engineer.

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