Hey TSSA, that’s not okay ! (Part 3)

Who is the TSSA, exactly, and what are they supposed to do, anyway ?

Wikipedia has a very short entry about this entity:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_Standards_and_Safety_Authority

” The Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) administers and enforces technical standards in the province of Ontario, Canada.

“It is a non-profit organization that has been given powers to enforce and create public safety rules in such areas as elevators, ski lifts, amusement rides, boilers, pressure vessels and operating engineers in order to protect lives and the environment.”

This doesn’t mention the fuel handling angle, but the TSSA is the sole authority for matters of regulations surrounding fuel handling – which has removed a province or municipalities from having any jurisdiction like bylaws regarding things like, say, vent locations for underground gasoline storage tanks. Despite being a non-profit organization that is concerned with matters of public safety, the information and codes are only available for a substantial price (ie $ 135.00 plus HST for the Liquid Fuel Handling Code), and this information is NOT available through a public library or online. In my experience the TSSA has been incredibly unhelpful to the point of being obstructive – between refusing to answer my questions – to sending me a form to request any information ( $ 120.00 plus a 120 day waiting period for answers, plus an hourly rate for any extra research required.). As a homeowner living next to a gas station, I am not even able to access information about what the legal distance those underground storage tanks are required to be from the property line. I asked the TSSA this question in an email in July 2018, and no one has ever answered.

https://store.csagroup.org/ccrz__ProductDetails?sku=2425551

The TSSA has the authority to approve things like the relocation of the underground gasoline tanks and storage vents, which are then done by a petroleum contractor. In my particular situation, when I complained about the gasoline vapours entering my home due to the new vent location, they sent the same inspector who had approved the vent relocation to inspect his own work !

Since then, he is the only TSSA inspector I have dealt with. I have not been recording our conversations, but from my perspective I perceive there has been a lot of “gaslighting” going on. I have been told contradictory and frankly untrue things. I have been given explanations that plainly make no sense. I have been told that my interpretation of the code surrounding the vent location was incorrect, though when he actually reread the code had to admit that my understanding of it WAS the correct one. It is my word against his, as I do not have recordings of these interactions. I have been told that if he returns to continue to inspect – that I will be charged an hourly rate for this. The TSSA has not taken a single air quality sample, and does not have any documentation that the vent pipes are in a safe location, and that gasoline vapours are NOT entering my property. There is no test equipment that documents the volume of gasoline vapours released from the vent pipes. The TSSA has never provided me with any written documentation of their findings, with regards to my complaints.

I am not the only one who has had troubles with the TSSA.

Here’s a press release from the Ontario Federation of Labour, from 2013, about their concerns about the TSSA, as it pertains to the Sunrise Propane Disaster in Toronto (2009):

RELEASE – Conviction in Sunrise case confirms failure of privatized TSSA

More information about the Sunrise Propane Disaster:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/anger-sunrise-propane-blast-1.4779912

Did you know that the TSSA only started tracking residential inspections in January 2018 ?

https://www.cbc.ca/news/toronto-tssa-inspection-ontario-ministry-consumer-safety-sunrise-1.4611619

The auditor general says that the TSSA is not doing its job properly (Dec.2018):

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/tssa-auditor-general-report-1.4933359

Here’s what the people who work (or worked, past tense) at the TSSA have to say about working there:

https://www.glassdoor.ca/Reviews/TSSA-Reviews-E714721.htm

https://ca.indeed.com/cmp/Technical-Standards-&-Safety-Authority-(tssa)/reviews

Here’s what people in various industries have to say about their dealings with the TSSA:

https://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/tssa-toronto-ontario-c295285.html

Here’s what some people in the HVAC trade have to say about their dealings with the TSSA:

https://www.hvactechgroup.com/hvacforum/index.php?topic=616.0

This is beyond unacceptable. The TSSA needs to have its authority removed, and replaced by a competent, FULLY ACCOUNTABLE and transparent organization, that actually, ya know, works toward safety for businesses and residents.

As it is now is shameful.

 

 

Heritage Questions

(Photo found on FB of the adult male grandchild sitting where his grandmother, Peg, once sat, 60 or more years later.)

Just after I bought the house (fall, 2016) I contacted the City of London to inquire about the heritage designation process. I wasn’t from London, so I wasn’t sure if my house had any value as a heritage property or not ? It was on a list of heritage inventory, but I believe it was misidentified as a bungalow. After moving, and beginning on the fixing, pursuing the heritage designation research was on the list of things to do, but not a priority.

I bought the house BECAUSE it was old, and looked old, and retained many original details. I can’t explain why, but I have never felt comfortable with new buildings. It often has to do with the space – the low ceilings or ridiculous cathedral ceilings – but also the building materials themselves. Unless it was built with real architectural and design considerations (ie very expensive) things like hollow core MDF doors just make me inexplicably angry. The ripples and flaws in an old pane of glass make me very happy, however.

I was the very youngest grandchild, so my grandparents were much older than my friends grandparents. Their final house was a modest late 1940’s or early 50’s house. Despite being Saskatchewan farmers, they liked to travel, and brought home souvenirs and curios. My grandfather made a museum in his basement, that often had out of town callers, who had to sign the guestbook. It was a mishmash of homemade folk art (a farm made completely out of small cut and polished slabs of stone, including the people and animals), things like a shark’s jaw, unusual rocks, antique bottles and things from the farm and other oddities. I visited it many times, even though I knew every item by heart.

The town I grew up in was a small, boring grain farming town. People were very suspicious about old things, unless it was a farm implement. There was not much to do except go to the library. The library had the regional museum on the 2nd floor. It had a chain across the stairs, but if you asked the librarian she would let you go upstairs, unescorted, and she would turn on all the lights. The displays never varied. There were WW1 items, and photos and steroscopic viewers, and some antique clothing and dishes. I don’t know how many times I looked at the displays. As a kid in the 1970’s it was hard to imagine living with a kerosene light fixture, or a curling iron that had to be heated in the fire ! In context – these items predated me by about 60 years. I don’t know if kids these days are awed by a 1959 light fixture, for example. My father (b.1919) grew up in a house with no central heating, and an outhouse. Just the state of oldness really fascinated me. There was a surviving sod house, built around 1910 or 1915 that was still inhabited by the family that built it. I remember as a kid visiting the house. It was normal for local residents to call up other local residents to see if they could bring company to look at a local thing – like Bert Johnson’s stone fence, or the sod house. I remember the sod house residents as being somewhat eccentric – old men brothers. They had a cold cellar that was accessed through a door in the floor, down very steep stairs. In the basement you could see the slabs of sod the house was built from that still grew grass or peat. The exterior was stuccoed I think – it didn’t look like a dirt hut – but it had old windows and doors. I found that house very strange – a real contrast to the fake wood patterned melamine and shag carpet in all the newer homes in the area. I could not understand why those men lived in a house like that.

Now I am one of those geezers.

Perhaps it was the desire to distance myself from the psuedo suburb I grew up in, and everything it represented.

Ask artist Dean McDermott. His entire career has been built on the fascination with living in another time:

Anyhow – I contacted the City of London to begin the Heritage Designation process.

I sent photos and received an interested reply. A couple of representatives came over to have a look. They seemed happy to encounter a house that was quite intact – except for the kitchen and bathroom, of course. Those rooms are always the first casualties of “improvement” and “progress”.

They gave me some research about who they believed the first owners to be – a family named Warren, and a successive list of occupants. The Warren family lived in the area in several houses – and the children stayed close to their parents as adults, one living two doors down (in a house long gone).

Old houses and storefronts are the survivors, the rebels. Somehow they managed to keep going without interference or interruption. Usually the upgrades create the most damage, and undo the integrity of the building.

This house has been here since 1898 or so. I’ll do what I can to keep it going.

 

 

The (expensive)burden of truth

The burden of truth is a complicated concept. The philosophical approach deviates somewhat from the legal perspective. In a legal perspective the wronged party must demonstrate proof of the harm that was done.

From this paper: “From Permissive regulation to Preventative Design in Environmental  Decision Making” by M’Gonigle, Jamieson, McAllister and Peterman, Osgoode Hall law Journal (1994)

https://digitalcommons.osgoode.yorku.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1678&context=ohlj

“Private citizens may have recourse to a number of common law causes of action to protect both their private interests and, indirectly, those of the environment. These include the torts of private and public nuisance, riparian rights, trespass, negligence, and strict liability. Of all the causes of action, however, only a public nuisance action might lead to a remedy for environmental damage per se (usually through the intervention of the Attorney General 38), as all the other causes of actions require the plaintiff to establish that a personal, proprietary interest has been affected. In such civil actions, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to show that, on a balance of probabilities, health and/or private property has suffered as a result of the defendent’s actions. Environmental protection through the common law occurs as a by-product of such civil actions. The plaintiff may seek compensation by way of damages or may ask the court to grant an injection to prevent a potential, or ongoing wrong. Thus, the common law achieves environmental protection either by granting an injunction to deter the defendant from allowing the wrong to continue or by requiring payment, both of which act as deterrents to others who may undertake similar actions. 39”

In my situation, I must prove that there are gasoline vapours in my house, which originate from the improperly located vent pipes.

  • Air quality sampling, conducted by trained personnel : $2200.00 plus HST, per samples gathered on a single day

I contacted FLIR Systems, who manufacture the camera that makes gasoline vapours visible (“Optical Gas Imaging” is what they call it). To purchase a camera is extremely expensive, like close to a hundred thousand dollars or more. They have a distributor in Ontario, who offers a rental. However, the representative I spoke with could not answer my questions about whether an individual who was not a trained operator would be able to use the footage as legal evidence. It astonishes me that the TSSA and MOE or any of the Environmental Consultants I spoke with do not use this camera in their investigations.

–  FLIR Systems camera rental: $ 4500.00 plus HST per week

My vets could neither prove nor disprove my various cat’s illnesses as being a result of being exposed to concentrated gasoline vapours within my home, on multiple occasions. There is very little medical literature about gasoline vapour inhalation in a veterinary context (v.s. tests on lab mice or rats). A necropsy could provide information about what was going on in a deceased animal’s body (ie location and type of tumours, toxicology, etc.) . However, a necropsy could not indicate what caused the illness, unless it was a result of something like blunt force trauma or a mechanical obstruction.

https://www.acvp.org/page/Necropsy

– Necropsy, performed by a licensed veterinary pathologist : $ 900.00 plus the cost of transportation to Guelph, and cremation afterwards

With regards to my cat’s illnesses, while their symptoms can be documented, and if there is a cluster of unrelated cats in a household all having similar illnesses that are not the result of a specific food, or products used within the home, proving that their illnesses are a result of the numerous gas vapour infiltrations becomes much more challenging. Correlation is not causation, so the relationship between gasoline vapours and their particular illnesses must be proven, not presumed or suspected:

https://www.understandinghealthresearch.org/useful-information/correlation-and-causation-15

Anyone who has watched nightime t.v. dramas has seen the myth of the crafty, underdog lawyer who gathers valuable evidence that everyone else missed, and the courtroom gasps as the judge bangs his (95% his) gavel and finds the bad guys guilty.

It is my experience that life does not work this way.