Sunrise explosion damage still troubles residents

A Toronto couple say they are still wrangling with their insurance company over damage from the Sunrise Propane blast three years ago.

Couple say garage repair improperly done

Dianne Green and her husband Michael show CBC News reporter Zulekha Nathoo water puddling in their garage. The couple say contractors hired by their insurance company failed to properly repair the garage. (CBC)

A Toronto couple whose neighbourhood was rocked by a massive explosion  at Sunrise Propane Industrial Gases three years ago say they are still fighting with their insurance company over damage repairs.

Many homes in the area were badly damaged when the propane facility near Keele Street and Wilson Avenue exploded just before 4 a.m. on Aug. 10, 2008.

A $300-million class-action lawsuit launched against Sunrise and 13 other defendants is before the courts. The city of Toronto is also suing Sunrise for $2.8 million.

A level placed on the floor of the Greens' garage shows it doesn't have enough slope to shed water from the floor. ((CBC News))

One couple who spoke to CBC News said they are still fighting with Belair Insurance over repairs to their garage, which was damaged in the explosion.

CBC News contacted Belair for an interview but the company refused to comment, citing privacy concerns.

Dianne Green, 74, and her husband Michael, 84, live on Katherine Road, a residential street just two blocks from the Sunrise facility at 54 Murray Road.

When the explosion shook their neighbourhood in the early morning hours three years ago, the couple fled to a hotel as their windows were blown out. The rest of their neighbourhood was also evacuated.

The force of the blast badly damaged the couple’s wooden garage, leaving it leaning to one side.

The Greens' insurance company hired contractors to repair the damage. The garage was rebuilt and the work received final approval from a city building inspector in December 2009.

However, the couple says their new garage has two problems: the floor is not properly sloped toward the front and the foundation is too low to the ground.

The result is a water infiltration problem that leaves puddles on the floor, making the garage’s wooden walls constantly wet and prone to rot.

"It's very wet ... and I mean, this is all the time," Dianne Green told CBC News. "[The insurance company] hired contractors, but they didn’t know what they’re doing," she said. "The explosion was bad, but this is even worse."

A letter from the city's manager of inspection services dated April 26, 2011, confirms that although the work passed inspection, the required floor grading "does not appear to have been achieved." The same letter also said the minimum six-inch clearance between the finished grade and structural walls "has not been achieved on the north and east sides."

"It's so hard," said Dianne Green, who has lived in the house with her husband for more than 51 years. "Three years of this, back and forth and back and forth."

The family says Belair has offered to rebuild the garage on the existing cement foundation. The Greens have declined that offer, saying this won't solve water problems caused by the improperly sloped floor.  

"I don't understand," said Dianne Green. "We paid for so many years. We never had any claims. We always played by the rules. And now, when it comes to something that is important to us, they don’t want to do it."