A skyscraper-and-housing-crazed Toronto has more construction cranes than Tim Hortons locations right now (trust me, I checked) and it can’t be easy to keep all those construction sites active. shelter from intruders.
But a construction site appears to have taken security a bit too far, as someone – and it’s unclear who – wrapped scaffolding around the base of a new development with barbed wire, giving sidewalks at the base of the tower almost complete a rather post-apocalyptic atmosphere.blogTO reader Adam Wynne shared photos of the curious scene at 480 Yonge Street, saying he was “shocked by the disorderly manner in which the barbed wire had been strung around the scaffolding and at the above the sidewalk”.
Attempts to find out who installed this thread and who is responsible for its removal have proven to be such a colossally deep and confusing rabbit hole that I’m not sure I’ll ever see the light of day again.
The site in question is home to a recently completed 38-story tower containing purpose-built rental apartments. Although it has reached its final height and is largely enclosed in an exterior cladding, it is still several months away from occupancy and remains a very active site.
Whether installed by a party associated with the development in an effort to deter climbing, or a highly confusing display of vandalism, the continued presence of barbed wire has locals worried.
“It’s easily accessible for those walking on the sidewalk below, and several sections are low enough that kids can easily encounter it,” says Wynn.
“Surely there is a better way to prevent unauthorized people from climbing the scaffolding without compromising public and worker safety.”
Wynn says “The City of Toronto has very specific requirements for where and how barbed wire can be used – including minimum height requirements to prevent accidental injury.”
A cursory review of the city’s fencing bylaw reveals that there are indeed strict limits on where these materials can be used, stating that “no barbed wire, chicken wire, or other barbed or sharp material should only be used in a fence exceeding 2.5 meters in height.”, with some minor exceptions which do not seem applicable here.
I’m not going to sit here and point fingers (because lawyers and all that) but it’s pretty clear whoever put up this barbed wire didn’t do it in accordance with this regulation.
Wynn says he sent photos with his concerns to 311, only to be informed that “they no longer file service requests via email, and I have to submit them through their app or website. However , there is no pre-set option for this issue on the app or website.”
And the dead ends kept piling up.
Then Wynn says he contacted Toronto’s planning division, but was told that the planner associated with this development was no longer with that department. He then tried to contact the Toronto building, which he said “informed that it needed to be sent to Municipal Licensing and Standards” for review.
In what reads like a bureaucratic wild goose chase, Wynn then contacted Municipal Licensing and Standards via a “property standards inquiry” request on the 311 application, only to be told they didn’t. had no competence in the matter.
“Throughout this process, the local councilor’s office has remained silent – although I understand this week is a time of transition between councillors,” Wynne said.
With all other options exhausted, Wynn says he “asked Toronto Building to reconsider the issue following MLS’s response,” and was told they were — as of Thursday after- 12 noon – “were examining it to see if it was within their jurisdiction.”
In addition to Wynne’s extensive efforts to investigate why such an installation would be permitted and which department was responsible for its removal, blogTO reached out to project developer QuadReal, contractor Skygrid and site security firm ASG Security. Group for an explanation.
None of the companies have responded to requests for comment at the time of writing. However, there is evidence that the site has used barbed wire as a security measure in the past.
A Google Street View image captured in 2021 shows barbed wire placed atop a building fence, although it is unclear from the images if this installation complies with the 2.5 height restriction meters.
If there’s a lesson to be learned from all of this, it’s that answers don’t come easily in a city where every city department passes on inquiries like an informational hot potato game.
So, for now, watch out for the barbed wire, I guess.