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How do people living on the Toronto Islands get their utilities—electricity, sewage, Internet and so forth?

How do people living on the Toronto Islands get their utilities—electricity, sewage, Internet and so forth?—Martin Levi, Forest Hill

At the foot of Bathurst Street, near the Island airport ferry docks, an unassuming manhole opens onto a gaping chasm leading 21 metres down into the bedrock, then another 144 metres across to the Islands. Constructed in 1932, the tunnel’s 23-centimetre-thick concrete walls house five hydro lines, a gas main, three telephone cables and two sewer pipes. Those hoping for a tour will be disappointed—the aging structure is kept permanently pressurized with water to prevent a collapse. The only visit in recent memory (and perhaps ever) took place in the summer of 2000. After much careful planning, huge pumps and fans were rigged to clear and dry the space, after which technicians armed with breathing apparatuses and explosion-proof lanterns made their way gingerly inside. Their mission: to lay down high-speed Internet lines, the latest strand in the Islands’ hidden umbilical cord.

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