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The Fixer: Bricks and boulders pile up next to library

Rubble next to library

JACK LAKEY/TORONTO STAR Piles of rubble from a renovation of the building on the left are causing water pooling that is damaging the foundation of the building on the right, a branch of the Toronto Public Library at the corner of Gerrard St. and Ashdale Ave.

Is debris from a renovation project causing water damage to its next-door neighbour, the Gerrard Ashdale public library?

It depends on who you ask.

A three-storey building on the north side of Gerrard St., west of Ashdale Ave., is undergoing a demolition of sorts that began last year and has since proceeded in fits and starts.

The building has been gutted to the walls, with the roof gone, open windows on upper floors and fibreboard shoddily placed over ground floor openings, in a feeble attempt to keep people out.

A narrow space between the east wall of the building and the back of the library is filled with debris from the project, including a large mound of bricks and concrete near the street.

A reader told us via SeeClickFix that the debris “makes a dam, where water can pile up and cause water damage to the library,” adding that the site is not properly secured.

We went there and talked to a library staffer, who confirmed that water has been seeping into the foundation along the back wall of the library, and that she thinks it is partly caused by the big pile of rubble.

When the upper floors were gutted last fall, she said, workers tossed a huge amount of debris into the narrow space between the buildings, causing the library to shake when it hit the ground.

A similar-sized space between the west side of the building and a jewelry store next to it has not even a scrap of rubble, as if a higher standard was applied to it than the library.

STATUS: We don’t often get complaints about damage to a public facility caused by a private development; the city is usually pretty good at taking care of itself. But it had us wondering what the Toronto Public Library has done about it. Len Smith, facilities manager for libraries in that area, said he is “100 per cent sure” that debris between the buildings is not causing problems, and that there is no water damage. Smith said he hasn’t fielded any complaints or seen a work order to fix a problem relating to the debris. The library building is about 100 years old and has structural issues, he said, which have nothing to do with the work next door. We suggested he might want to ask property standards to enforce a bylaw that would require the rubble to be cleaned up, which he agreed is a good idea.

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