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Resident wants Metrolinx to pay for damage

Home, lifestyle affected by pile driving

by Lisa Rainsford

Metrolinx has completed the pile installation at the West Toronto Diamond underpass, but the work has just begun for a Dundas Street West resident whose home is adjacent the Georgetown rail corridor at the corner of Annette and Dupont streets.

Michelle Simpson is the proprietor of the canine hotel and day spa, Diggity Dog, a live-in work space she has owned for the past decade. She says the noise and vibration caused by the daily pile driving has left her with psychological scars and her house with physical ones.

“That whole eight months of pile driving, I couldn’t stand it, I wanted to throw myself in front of the crane,” said Simpson on a recent tour of her house and business. “I have a sensitivity to noise now. A lot of dogs wouldn’t go outside to pee. They were petrified.”

The 90-year-old converted medical office has cracks throughout the walls and ceilings. Chunks of the linoleum tile in the kitchen are missing. There are gaps between windows and window sills.

“The damage is unbelievable,” said Simpson. “The stove was moving across the floor. Every time they pounded, the top floor was moving half-an-inch to an inch-and-a-half.”

None of her staff wanted to come to work, said Simpson. They did so out of decency and compassion for the animals.

The Canadian transportation agency completed the installation of all the 2,338 piles by the end of September, said Vanessa Thomas, Metrolinx-GO Transit spokesperso. She said there will be a few that will need to be removed and replaced. The construction of the underpass is scheduled to be completed in 2014.

When asked whether Metrolinx will provide compensation to homeowners who live directly along the tracks, Thomas said it handles requests for compensation on a case-by-case basis.

“For homeowners in the West Toronto Diamond community who were impacted by the construction of the West Toronto Diamond underpass, we have worked diligently to find customized solutions that work for the individual homeowner,” said Thomas in an email to Toronto Community News.

Simpson did receive a visit from a Metrolinx insurance adjuster, but nothing specific has been ironed out as of yet. She is in the midst of dealing with her own insurance company to secure compensation.

“The construction company sent out by my insurance company is quoting the damage at more than $29,000,” said Simpson.

Her home and the animals she boarded were continually covered in dust throughout the duration of the pile driving.

“I had to excavate the entire backyard. It’s now astro turf and interlocking brick. I used to go out and wash the backyard three times a day. The air conditioner was plugged up with dust,” said Simpson. “We had to mop the walls and the bottom of chairs - everything was covered in dust. It was like a snow drift.”

Simpson said she suffered a loss of income because clients did not want to get their dogs groomed during the pile-driving periods on weekdays.

“There’s no question GO should be compensating me,” said Simpson.

Already, Simpson has had a new floor installed. Other repairs are expected to begin shortly, however, Simpson is entering her busiest season with Christmas fast approaching.

“I’m going ahead to the best of my ability,” she said.

GO Transit has a claims process to resolve situations in which a resident is seeking compensation due to perceived impacts believed to be caused by Metrolinx-GO Transit, according to Thomas.

“GO Transit is undergoing the claims process with Ms. Simpson and we are awaiting her completed paperwork which will allow us to move forward in the claims process,” said Thomas.

Generally, residents can learn more about the claims process by visiting or calling the community liaison at the West Toronto Diamond site office, she added.