15 June 2013

Back Alley

I live in an area of the city that has a back alley or back lane. Over the years I have noticed how rough the alley is to drive with increasing pits, potholes, and crumbling cement. At one point of almost bottoming out my car at 5 km/hr I called the city and asked how to get the alley re-done. They said I have to get a petition provided by the city and have 51% of the people living with the alley on their property to agree to have it re-done. Well, this area is primarily rentals and the landlords would not look kindly on the additional taxes they'd have to pay to get their alley to look nicer. So I gave up on that idea and only drove down the alley in the winter when it was more even. And I live on the corner so it's not like I even need to come down the alley if I don't want to.

Can you tell where the new sod
begins and ends?
Last summer the city started the neighbourhood revitalization project for my area and I got new sidewalks, curbs, and resurfaced roads. It's beautiful, the city even laid sod where they ripped up the boulevard and my lawn. And replaced the steps that I had at the front of the walk (with more risers than I had, and graded wrong so water collects in the steps, but whatever). While all this work was going on, the drain located three houses in from the mouth of the alley was covered over with tarmac for reasons I just could not fathom. Within a day or two, the tarmac collapsed and we had a new and interesting pothole to navigate in the alley.

The next problem to arise was drainage. After some heavy rains I saw the alley wasn't draining at all. The alley was graded to drain where they covered the drain, not at the mouth of the alley where a new drain was installed. I called the neighbourhood revitalization hotline to ask why this was done, what purpose it served, and could they fix it. The woman I spoke to said it wasn't her department, she had no idea why the drain would be sealed over but would send someone out to look at it. That was last year.

This spring I saw that the drain pothole had not been repaired at all and had in fact worsened a bit with the freeze/thaw of winter. So I tried something new, I sent an email with explicit directions of where this drain was and asked if someone could please fix it before a car gets damaged from the sharp pothole. They thanked me and said they'd send someone out to look at it.
Drain puddle after rain
Nothing happened that I could see. No new city vehicles wandering around, no survey crew, nothing. I asked my boys and S if they'd noticed anyone coming out to look at it and they said they hadn't. Then we got some significant rainfall and the puddle developed again. This time I took pictures of the puddle and sent another email pointing out that last year we had the same puddle problem after rain and after snow melt. The puddle did not ever drain last year and it was almost...just about...dried up when the snow fell. I pointed out that the puddle - which I named the Stagnant Mosquito Pond - was the entire width of the alley and about two car lengths long and still the new drain at the mouth of the alley was dry. I asked again to either open the drain back up or re-grade the alley so it drains properly.
My alley is gone

Within a week of that email I had a flyer in my mailbox stating that the alley was going to be worked on for about two weeks so prepare to have no access. Yay! I don't know if the city had planned this from my first complaint, second, or third. Nor do I know if it will cost my landlord any extra in taxes. Oddly, only half the alley is being re-done.

Piled sidewalk stones were at the edge of
my driveway
They are digging much deeper than I thought they would. I figured they would just resurface the alley and grade it better. Each day I would come home from work and find they took yet another layer of dirt away. S said that maybe they found out the alley has sinkholes in it or that the ground is generally unstable so they have to dig until it is stable. They also took away some of my dirt driveway, probably because it is dirt and not cement like every other driveway in the alley (my landlord refuses to pave it because it will raise his land taxes). I'm hoping the city at least pounds the dirt down or something when they are done paving. I can't imagine they'd leave a gaping chasm at the base of my driveway. Maybe they will fill in the sinkhole that I have at the driveway entrance. No matter how many stones I lay or what I use to fill the hole, it continues to sink just a bit every year making it hard on my tires. I also didn't know they put a barrier and netting down under the surface. I suspect that giant pile of cement dust will eventually become the surface of the alley as it wasn't there a few days ago. Good way to recycle cement chunks, though.


none of your beeswax said...

you got the job going! whichever complaint got it started, it worked. it will be interesting to see the finished work.


Chantelle said...

What Vicki said - you got the job done by contacting them! I'm thrilled that the big non-draining puddle will be (hopefully) gone.

You rock!

Love you,