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When the city gets it right, does anyone notice?

The city doesn’t always get the credit it deserves for keeping things running smoothly and fixing problems in a timely way.

A lot of people out there believe anyone who works for the city is shiftless and indolent; how many times have you heard somebody say they saw five guys watching while a sixth fiddles with a shovel?

Workers excavate a sinkhole on Fir Ave. that first appeared several weeks ago. They were trying to find the cause of the collapsed pavement.
Workers excavate a sinkhole on Fir Ave. that first appeared several weeks ago. They were trying to find the cause of the collapsed pavement.  (Jack Lakey for the Toronto Star)

But after many years of writing about problems in need of repair, we have found that the city is pretty darn good at its business, and a lot better at fixing things than people might think.

When we’ve been asked to speak in public about our job, we often begin by making the point that it’s a daily miracle that our city works as well as it does, especially compared to some big U.S. cities.

We were again reminded of that when we checked out a sinkhole that has grown much larger over several weeks, on Fir Ave., just west of Fernwood Park Ave. in the Beaches.

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Adam Beatty sent us an email and photos of it, saying, “below is a sinkhole that has been like this for the past two to three weeks. All the city has done is to put progressively larger pylons around it.

“I wonder when they plan to fix it?”

We went there Tuesday and found a crew of contract workers excavating the area to figure out the cause of a washout beneath the road that created the sinkhole.

A city supervisor on the scene said the likeliest cause is a water main leak that has slowly eroded the road bed beneath the pavement, creating the conditions for a collapse of pavement.

But he stressed they weren’t certain at that point, but would keep digging until they figured it out, so it can be properly repaired.

Given the resources needed to diagnose and repair it, we think two to three weeks is a reasonable time frame. The city can’t be everywhere at once, but things are always fixed, and usually in a timely way.

Keep that in mind when someone tells you otherwise.

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STATUS: Ellen Leesti, a spokesperson for Toronto Water, emailed to say “the sinkhole was created by a broken sewer main which had over time washed away some of the road bed. The bulk of the repair is estimated to be completed this week, with some work on one service connection pipe being completed by the middle of next week.”

What’s broken in your neighbourhood? Wherever you are in Greater Toronto, we want to know. Email to jlakey@thestar.ca or follow @TOStarFixer on Twitter

TORONTO STAR