“If you built a tunnel near Rexall Centre in Toronto give us a call, k?”
The tweet from a Toronto police officer followed a call from authorities for the public’s help in solving the mystery of an underground chamber discovered last month near a Pan Am Games venue.
Police said Tuesday they don’t know who built it and they don’t know why.
“I don’t have any evidence that suggests criminality at this point,” Deputy Chief Mark Saunders said. “But bear in mind I don’t have the intent behind this at this point, that could change. I’m open to anything right now.”
In the absence of such evidence, he said, “there’s no criminal offence for digging a hole.”
What we know so far:
Height: six feet, four inches
Width: two feet, 10 inches
Length: 33 feet, three inches
Orientation: tunnel ran north-south
Structure: plywood-reinforced walls and ceiling
Utilities: moisture-resistant light bulbs powered by a generator, sump pump
Contents: Wheelbarrow, gloves, food and beverages, rosary and Remembrance Day poppy
Where is it?
It is on the western edge of the York campus, southwest of the Rexall Centre, a stadium that will serve as the official tennis venue for the Pan American and Parapan Am Games in July.
When was it found?
It was discovered on Jan. 14 by an employee of the nearby Toronto and Region Conservation Authority in January. It has since been filled in.
The mystery of who built it
It’s unclear whether the bunker was finished or if whoever built it intended to continue, Superintendent Bryce Evans of the Specialized Criminal Investigations Unit said.
Supt. Evans said he believes it to be the work of more than one person.
“In my personal experience, it would be a lot for one person to do by themselves because if they start getting the pulley, bringing the buckets up, you gotta load the buckets full of dirt, so it would really be a manual task for one person,” he said.
“They had to do this manually, and going 33 feet in the distance and the height and then getting the material there and then building support walls and building the tops on top – there’s more. It’s not just a week’s job.”
A Toronto construction company estimated it would take months to complete such a job by hand, even with several people involved.
Jeff Chomyn, project manager at MGI Construction Corp., said the soil near York University is clay or silt, which is time consuming to dig out but “relatively safe” in terms of avoiding cave-ins.
“It would take someone to dig and one person would have to be moving the material out of the way consistently or else it would take one person a year,” Chomyn said.
“I’d say it’s four or five people in my opinion.”
Police are working to see if they can trace the generator, which they said was hidden in a separate hole about nine metres from the chamber and connected through wiring buried underground.
They said it appears the wood used to brace the walls may have been taken from temporary bleachers set up at the Rexall Centre for last summer’s Rogers Cup tennis competition.