This winter in Toronto, as many as 70 water mains ruptured every week, causing blackouts, flooding basements to the rafters and creating the perfect recipe for SUV-size sinkholes. How we got into this mess and what it will cost to get us out
(Illustration: Josh Cochran)
Hillary Avenue is a short street spanning the distance between Keele and Rogers Road in a west Toronto neighbourhood populated with Portuguese bakeries, West Indian takeouts and Vietnamese noodle shops. Toward the west end of the street, facing a public school and an adjoining daycare centre, is the tidy, two-storey home belonging to Pedro Lezcano and his family. Lezcano, a 45-year-old native of Paraguay, is the night manager of the Loblaws across the street from Mel Lastman Square. When not taking care of their 15- and 11-year-old sons, Lezcano’s wife, Maria, works as a nanny.
On the night of Saturday, January 2, the Lezcanos spent a quiet evening at home. They ate dinner, watched some TV, and at 10:30 Lezcano went to bed. Sometime in the middle of the night, the water main running beneath Hillary Avenue broke right outside his house. For the next several hours, water flowed undetected from the break, slowly spreading across Lezcano’s backyard and the yards belonging to four of his neighbours. By the early morning, the pooled water was beginning to seep through their foundation walls. Around seven o’clock, a tenant living in the basement of one of the neighbouring houses was wakened by the sound of liquid sloshing against the side of her bed and frantically called 911.
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