Overhead wire plans still up in the air

Residents near Markham Rd. and Ellesmere Ave. have long complained about too many ugly overhead wires in the area — which may be why city workers have been out on the street figuring out where they can bury the wires.

One worker spraying fluorescent orange paint on the sidewalk last week said his job is to find out where pipes and cables are located underground by using a metal detector-like instrument to guide contractors when they dig up the earth to place the wires underground.

The worker, who wouldn’t give his name, told an Observer reporter he would probably have to come back and re-mark the area five more times before the project finally gets under way.

“Nothing gets done in this area because the lower income people live in this area,” he said.

Pointing northward, he said areas around Finch Ave. E. have already put wires that line the streets underground, especially in residential areas.

“They hardly have wires like this anymore,” he said.

Ward 38 councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker was not available for comment, and his executive assistant, Gurjeet Dhillon, said he could neither confirm nor deny construction plans: “We will need more information about this.”

Overhead wires are not only a problem aesthetically but may also be dangerous. A source from Toronto Hydro’s street light division said problems often arise when trees are knocked down on the wires as a result of bad weather. Hazardous situations such as loose cables or hanging street lamps are placed in high priority and must be fixed within a 24-hour deadline.

Burying wires can be costly, however, and can also bring its own dangers.

Toronto maintenance standards require that wires, connections, switch, fuses, grounding, and disconnect poles must be inspected annually. The cost of inspection and maintenance of these cables are underground can be high.

One of hydro’s stray voltage incidents last winter proved fatal when two dogs were electrocuted while on a walk with their owners. One of the deaths was blamed on an electrically charged metal grate. In January, an east-end child was shocked by a metal handwell.