They don't know who built it or when?

By Staff

October 5th, 2021



The Recommendation was to Authorize the Director of Engineering Services to negotiate and execute a cost sharing
agreement with the owners of property municipally known as 431 Martha Street, City of Burlington, for the design and replacement of a jointly owned retaining wall that is in need of replacement.

“Approve the project geotechnical investigation and detail design costs funding” as noted in engineering services department report.

A retaining wall exists, along the bank of Rambo Creek, at 431 Martha Street, City of Burlington. The lower portion of the retaining wall and foundation is reinforced concrete, and the upper portion of the wall is masonry block. The construction year is unknown, and no information exists respecting who constructed the wall.

That is troubling – city administrations keep everything but for some reason the information doesn’t exist.

How this level of damage to a retaining wall was missed is disturbing.

In early 2021, the City conducted its legislated biennial detailed visual inspections in accordance with the requirements of the Ontario Structure Inspection Manual. During the inspection on April 9, 2021, the City’s consultant assessed this retaining wall as being in poor condition, recommending immediate replacement. The consultant also recommended fencing off the area behind the retaining wall, within a 4m radius of the wall to prevent pedestrian and vehicular access to the area for safety reasons until the retaining wall is replaced. The City proceeded to fence off this area and closed the affected sidewalk and driveway at 431 Martha Street. The City obtained a legal survey and confirmed the majority of the retaining wall (approximately 80%) is located within 431 Martha Street private property limits.

The bit of grate seen at the left is where the creek runs beneath Martha Street. The level of damage is severe.

The remaining 20% of the wall is within the City’s Martha Street right-of-way. Failure of the retaining wall could cause significant damage to private property and Rambo Creek, potentially causing debris to block or disrupt the flow of the creek. If the retaining wall collapses there is also a risk of damaging the surrounding sidewalk as well as compromising the adjacent culvert structure and the Martha Street roadway. The City is working with the property owners to secure a cost sharing agreement which would result in a 50/50 cost split for the geotechnical investigation work and a cost split of 80% ownership of 431 Martha Street and 20% City of Burlington for the design and construction. The City is currently negotiating the terms of a cost sharing agreement relating to the geotechnical investigation as well as the design and construction of the retaining wall. At this time, the property owners agreed to the City managing the retaining wall replacement project, pursuant to the terms of the City’s Procurement Bylaw.

Given the experience the city had during the 2014 flood replacing that retaining wall is critical.

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3 comments to They don’t know who built it or when?

  • Phil Waggett

    Possibly in the 1960’s. I have remnants of such a structure (I have only seen the top made of cement blocks) along Tuck Creek behind my house. Twenty years ago, my neighbour, one of the original residents on my street since his house was built in 1963 told me the cement blocks were installed by the City in the 1960’s to reinforce the creekbank.

  • Greg S

    This will run into a wall really fast. Not only is replacing that wall extremely challening from a logistic and environmental point of view, but to properly do execute this work will be over $600k for construction and another $200k for design and contract adminisation. Add on $50k for geotechnical investigation and the homeowner will be on the hook for $665k+tax. This is a rough estimate based on non-covid inflated construction costs and the City managing the whole process well (!).

    Is it realistic that the homeowner would be willing or able to put out that kind of cash? I wonder what the engineering department gave to council and the owner as an estimate.

  • perryb

    What happened to the promises made by the developers of the proposed tower to the north that they would improve the Rambo Creek channel?