As the picture on the right shows, our water and sewer lines were in bad shape. Many of the city’s lines are 80 years old, ours included. One result (in addition to lost water and sewage leaks) is the daily radio traffic report with their lists of pipe breaks. In fact, during the latter part of the Roncesvalles work Westminster Avenue was blocked for a day because an old clay sewer pipe collapsed in the middle of the street.
We’re all familiar with the piles of rubble and the large noisy machines we endured for months. Sewer pipes are buried nearly 4 meters below the service, and the water mains (which run under the west sidewalk) are nearly 2 meters down. So, the centre of the street and the west sidewalk had to be removed, and the required ditches dug. Everything, from concrete, asphalt, old streetcar tracks and then the old sewer and water lines had to be taken out, the last two in carefully planned phases.
Of course, this was not a mere matter of digging with excavators and shovels. There are networks of gas pipes and telephone and TV cable lines “down there.” In theory, these were mapped out with painted marks and lines as well as official drawing, but time, sand, and even clay shifts. Even so, remarkably few lines were broken.
Many labourers spent many hours in ditches to renew our services.
The Roncesvalles Village Water and Sewer Renewal slide show includes captions explain the various tasks.