Home Ice bergs WARMINGTON: “Iceberg” houses worry the neighborhood

WARMINGTON: “Iceberg” houses worry the neighborhood

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When you see an iceberg, you know that 90% of its mass is below the surface of an ocean.

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But with iceberg houses, there’s no way to tell from looking from the street how deep the builders have gone or what those mega-basements are for.

For example, Councilor Jaye Robinson presented Toronto City Council this week with a motion to have a comprehensive study on the new phenomenon in construction that allows those who can afford to build down, not just up.

“Iceberg houses can have significant impacts on the environment and neighboring properties, including soil permeability and erosion, injury and removal of mature trees, drainage and stormwater management, and the collapse of nearby foundations, ”Robinson told his constituents in Don Valley West (Ward 15).

Since there was no opposition to his appeal, city officials will be examining this new way of getting around the height restrictions in detail.

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Robinson’s motion called on city council to “direct the chief planner” to “report on strategies to deal with the impacts of developments called iceberg houses” which are “detached single-family homes with multi-story basements that extend considerably beyond the building’s surface footprint.

This stems from a current construction on Knightswood Rd. In Hoggs Hollow which will see an enlarged two story basement below the backyard of the property where a 250 year old maple tree was recently removed.

“The Don River runs through the middle of our community and the whole neighborhood is riddled with rivers and underground springs” and “parts of the area are in a floodplain,” said neighbor Shannon Rancourt.

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She added that when an iceberg development gets “two, three and sometimes four stories deep … the water is moved – it has to go somewhere.”

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Some fear that once the trees, roots and green spaces are removed, there is nothing left to “remove the moisture” and serious problems could ensue.

The good news is, the city’s experts will be looking into everything. The bad news is that it may be too late for this iceberg construction and several others in the Bridle Path.

Building permits have already been issued. Toronto sun contacted the owner to get his take on this situation on the project and will follow up with him if he wants to discuss his point of view

Meanwhile, as Parker Samuels of Robinson’s office explained, this motion will help the city get a head start on this issue to figure out how to handle it before it becomes a major trend.

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On the one hand, the concept of the iceberg looks pretty cool; someone can build a big gym in their basement, have an elevator going up and down to a basketball court, bowling alley, or game room.

But what is neat and what construction is safe must be evaluated.

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In the case of building Hoggs Hollow, the process is complete and the project is about to be under construction. Still, Robinson was wise to request this study.

Lessons already learned from Europe show that everything revolves around the water below the surface. If there are a lot of them, or if the development is near a river that could be flooded, there may be problems.

“It’s basically a ditch,” neighbor Laura Lamarche said of Hoggs Hollow. She fears that too many iceberg constructions in this neighborhood will become problematic.

Perhaps other sections of town won’t have the same concerns as Hoggs Hollow, where the distant memory of Hurricane Hazel lingers.

In a free society, you don’t want to see an idea crushed just because it’s new.

When it comes to icebergs, it’s not what you see from the surface, but what happens below that can be important.

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