The past week has been rough for Toronto. The city hosted the G20 summit and saw violence hit home. Instead of making political statements about protesters, activists, police tactics, and the brainless vandals (who infiltrated the protest marches and destroyed property), I’d like to briefly mention one particular event that occurred.

At 1:40 AM on Sunday morning security guards spotted two people exit a manhole at Queen and Bay. Within minutes a few dozen police officers surrounded the scene and four arrests were made. The manhole in question is pictured above, as featured on a BlogTO post (from Friday June 25) on things you should avoid doing during the G20. It’s possible that this post sparked the curiosity of a select few who foolishly decided to check it out at the worst possible time.

This manhole doesn’t lead to a sewer, but is a shaft that services a utility tunnel. The tunnel is part of a deep lake cooling system that utlizes cold water from the lake to cool many of the downtown office towers. It’s doubtful that the people who were caught knew anything about the tunnel’s function, but seeing as the system is connected with the TD centre, Royal Bank Plaza, and most importantly the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (where the summit was held), this could have led to a disastrous breach of security. The manhole lid has since been sealed shut, but it’s a wonder why it wasn’t beforehand.

Another thing I feel like mentioning is that this manhole, among other similar lids, is generally assumed as a sewer access. This past Saturday and Sunday saw some pretty heavy rainfall on and off during the day and night. The people who were caught exiting the manhole were stupid enough to try such a stunt at such a place and time. What makes them bigger idiots is that they entered what looked to have been a sewer in between rain storms. The manhole lid is designed as a grille like most road-side catch basins. It likely doubles as a storm water drain or it wouldn’t sport such a design [read comments].

Update: Michael Cook, from vanishingpoint.ca, has posted an insightful and informative report on this incident and issues on ambiguous infrastructure.

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