Carpentry Atrocity

The Bylaw Enforcement Officer visited the gas station next door numerous times between June and December 2021. From garbage left strewn on the station property for days to giant unused rusting light fixtures, to the disgusting area behind the store – there were multiple problem areas. If an almost dead person on the property wasn’t a concern (Sept.,2021) then perhaps the multiple piss bottles baking in the sun for many days on top of the unlocked dumpster, in view of local residents and passers by could be, maybe ?

I was told that there was a City compliance order for the station to build a locked dumpster enclosure, but in six months nothing had happened.

The staff continued to act like they did not even understand HOW to use a dumpster:

Since the station opened in 2018, multiple variations of staff have not understood to even FLATTEN the boxes before they are placed in the dumpster. Why cardboard is not being recycled is another good question. Despite many, many incidents of the dumpster contents being torn open and strewn all over the property by various scavengers, it is frequently left in this state.
They must have hired a new staff member. Since the dumpster was overflowing, the solution was to just leave a pile of packaging and a box or two in the parking lot, in an area already having experienced numerous compliance orders, like no one would notice ?

I encountered the Bylaw Enforcement Officer assigned to this situation numerous times. The station DID remove a couple of gigantic rusted light fixtures from the 1950’s, that had never been turned on for as long as I lived here. The fixtures had wires sticking out from the base, some capped with Mirettes and others not. I assume at least one of the fixtures had potentially live wires, as that was what the extremely unsafe ungasketed light fixture had been attached to (March 2020).

Most of the gas stations, fast food places, etc. on major streets or malls have a locked dumpster enclosure. Since there had been chronic garbage issues happening at this address, it was obvious one was needed.

Locates had been sprayed on the parking lot area ages ago.

One day the culprit who built the terrible shoddy fence was in the parking lot, with his beloved leaf blower. He is above using ear protection, despite this horrid gas powered thing strapped to his back, louder than a chainsaw. It surely must feel more powerful than a rake or broom, as it can be heard from a full block away.

A few days later I heard pounding. Apparently they hired this guy – who had explicitly demonstrated his utter incompetence – to do something. He was breaking through the asphalt to set posts. I guess he had learned that posts COULD be set in asphalt after all, after he had denied this.

Through several days I watched some fumblings. A small stack of 4 x 4 fence posts appeared. From a previous fence battle, with a different horrible neighbour in the 2010’s, I knew that properly set posts should be about 48″ deep, to avoid frost heave. Longer fence posts require a deeper hole, for stability. These appeared to be 10′ posts that were set about 24″ deep. The weather in the middle of December had turned blustery and cold. From what I read, concrete requires optimum – ie above freezing – temperatures to cure properly.

The posts were set at several angles. The young guys I hired from Kijiji to set the posts for my driveway gate had been conscientious about the posts being level and straight. They used a stringline and a long 6′ level to verify this, even though the posts were 3′ runts, set 3′ deep. (I was willing to assume all responsibility if the short posts winter heaved as setting a 3′ post 4′ deep seemed like overkill. They were also only going to support a 3′ x 7′ picket gate.)

I could see that the site was challenging, as the station itself had been built on a volcano shaped hill. Not only did the street run downhill, so did the parking lot.

Over several days I observed the extremely slow construction. As per previous standards, there was no attempt at balance or equalized measurements. How is it possible to not even set the brackets straight ? I kept hearing the snap of a measuring tape, which I guess is only a symbolic tool if you cannot read it.

Excessively long screws poked through the lumber, waiting to maim any dumpster users.

I couldn’t believe that Site Planners would suggest that the enclosure be built with an extra handy corridor behind it for public urination, explosive vomiting, etc. But OMG, look at that locate marking…

Upon reflection, I had some serious questions about the posts’ proximity to the marked gas lines (yellow). I looked online for provincial and/or municipal code, but couldn’t find any. The first posthole company I used for both my fences would not set posts within 1 meter (almost 40″) of a marked gas line, and that posts nearby had to be hand dug due to the potential risk of severing a line while digging.

I phoned the (natural) gas company the next day to ask what acceptable code was, with regards to gas lines and setting fence type posts. The customer service woman I spoke to was extremely unhelpful, and treated me like I was some wretched NIMBY, asking for the code specifics. I gave up and asked a different person via online chat. He had to admit he didn’t know the answer but suggested I contact the TSSA about this. I sent the TSSA an email via their site, but no one ever answered my question.

The next day someone in a management position from the natural gas company phoned me. I got him to read me what the customer service woman had written about the phone call. She stated that I was angry that my commercial neighbour had gas lines located less than a meter from the property line ! I explained that a great deal of my concerns had been left out from this transcription. I told him what I was observing. He did NOT know what the code said, but put me on hold for a couple of minutes while he looked it up. As per the code that the natural gas company refers to (I don’t know what entity this is – if it is about building codes or gas line safety or what exactly) – a fence post is permitted to be set within 12″ of a natural gas line. BUT – prior to setting this post, an area 1 meter square is to be hand dug, to carefully expose the ACTUAL location of the gas lines. Locates are only approximate, so while the painted line indicates that there is a gas line in the proximity – it can be as far away as 40″ from the painted locate marking due to many factors. The post can then be set 12″ away from the ACTUAL gas line location. I emailed some photos of the post vs locate situation.

I wasn’t surprised by this complete lack of basic oversight. I mean, if I couldn’t find the code online, and customer service can’t find it, it is not accessible. But these posts are at a gas station. The dumpster enclosure in progress was located on a slope. How much does a dumpster weigh ? The truck that comes to unload them has kind of a forklift thing on the front that picks up the dumpster and turns them over to empty it into the back. They are not put down gently, then the forklift thing shoves it back into place, and drives away. What if the posts are set too closely to a gas line, and the force of the returned dumpster hits a post and damages a gas line ? This is not even considering the underground set up for the fuel storage – which was not marked in any way on the the locates. The posts are within 4 feet of the vent pipes…

At some point someone came along and told him that there shouldn’t be any space behind the enclosure so it was just kind of Siamese-twinned into the terrible fence I see from my front yard:

The fence was already crooked and poorly built. Who cares if it looked even worse ? I was already angry.
The interior shows the astonishing lack of carpentry skills and problem solving abilities. Since this builder did not have the skills to remove and relocate the light attached to the fence, that section is just shorter. On the “bright side” the enclosure is completely lit inside, a real feature.
Instead of building two gates that met in the middle, one large gate was built. Amazing faith is placed in the tiny hinges, suitable for a picket gate, to hold this gate which must be at least 8 feet wide x 8 feet tall. No attempt was made to make this structure seem level, or to compensate for the slope. This photo was taken within a week of the enclosure being built – and at least 8 identical trash bags are piled BESIDE it.
Two weeks later more trash was piled up beside the enclosure, in the very same spot, like it was huddled there, trying to hide. After walking by this on several occasions I emailed photos to the very same Bylaw Enforcement Officer. He had previously emailed me a notice that the file for my gas station concerns was now closed since they were now “in compliance”. He told me that from now on that I was to address my concerns to Property Standards, not him personally. He did visit the station after this pile of trash had sat out for 48 hours. The manager claimed that someone “dumped it there” and it wasn’t the station’s trash. Unlike the strict City of Toronto Garbage Police he did NOT make them open the bag contents to look for an address within the trash. My neighbour in Toronto received a $ 200 fine for putting a small bag of his household trash in the park garbage can, next door. I guess the City of London is not yet so advanced to use such methods.

I questioned the Bylaw Enforcement Officer about the unsightly and unsound construction of the dumpster enclosure, but again since there was no specific code to address this, that a locked dumpster hovel existed for this address was enough for the City of London standards.

The gate itself appears propped up on some bricks from the inside. I expect that it is too heavy and unbalanced for a staff member to actually open, so now someone just throws bags of garbage on top of the closed dumpster, or at least they try to. The squirrels like this as it is very accessible. I see them licking out little plastic butter containers and other plastic trash which gets dropped in my yard by them.

I have noticed that the culprit responsible for this now comes about half an hour before the dumpster truck shows up, to open the enclosure gate. He probably gets paid to do this. His incompetence has guaranteed him steady work, and my eternal loathing.

(The photo is from shorpy.com. The photo is probably from the Library of Congress. It was taken in 1935, in Virginia somewhere. It seems remarkable to me that 8 year old kids, including girls, were taught basic carpentry skills. One of those 10 year old kids could have built a better structure, without question.)

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