A Toronto sinkhole where someone grew tomatoes is back

A sinkhole in Toronto’s Rathnelly neighbourhood that gained notoriety in 2018 after residents planted tomatoes inside it to spur city action is back again.

But this time, the city is moving swiftly to have it repaired before another tomato crop is planted, something one resident says they are prepared to do.

“We’re keeping them in the back, but we’re always ready to come and bring them forward if we have to,” Masha Khesin told CBC Toronto on Tuesday.

The sinkhole on Poplar Plains Crescent, is several feet deep. It’s been a major issue in the community in the Dupont and Avenue Road are for months, prompting residents to plant the tomatoes last year.

Khesin, who has lived in the neighbourhood since 2001, said it was the community’s way to bring attention to the problem.

After seeing videos of the sinkhole in August last year, Mayor John Tory said he looked into the issue to discover it had been passed like a “hot potato” between city departments.

“People had become so fed up they planted tomatoes. It’s one of those things that falls between the cracks,” Tory said then, promising it would be fixed.

The repair work was carried out, but Khesin said the sinkhole returned earlier this year and the city promptly “tried” once again to fix it.

“I’m saying tried, because it didn’t quite work. We have people working there right now because it’s a major problem,” she said, referring to a city crew that was working to fill the sinkhole when a CBC News team visited the neighbourhood on Tuesday.

“Obviously they’re trying to eradicate the problem in a major way because there’s so much machinery.”

Bill Shea, director of distribution and collection for Toronto Water, says crews excavated inside the hole to find there was an abandoned eight-inch sewer pipe that had collapsed inside.

“That’s why it’s back again.”

Shea says he’s not one to make promises, but having had to transplant the original tomato plant to a nearby park and with the threat of more tomatoes looming, he’s confident this time the sinkhole will be gone for good.

“This sinkhole, I vow, will not be back again. Nor will the tomatoes.”

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