Elevator Modernization Update

Updates are posted here with the most recent information at the top and earlier posts following.


Check back here regularly for the latest news on our exciting elevator modernization.



Sixth Update – 24 January 2018

The Ralph Thornton Community Centre’s elevator was put out of service on Monday 22 January. 

The Centre’s elevator will remain out of service until the new elevator has been certified and running.  The programming spaces in the Centre can now only be accessed by using the stairs.  Public washrooms in the basement may be inaccessible at times, but washrooms are still available on the second and third floors.

The shut down of the elevator coincided with the completion of the accessible ramp and new, temporary entrance for the library.  The library can be entered using the ramp along side the east side of the Centre or from the temporary stairs on Queen Street (as well as through the front lobby, except on days when the elevator work results in the temporary closure of the lobby).  A book drop slot has been installed with the temporary entrance, for returning books when the library is closed.

Technicians are currently in the process of dismantling and removing the old mechanical and hydraulic units from the building.  This demolition is expected to be completed around the end of January.

The new mechanical systems were delivered during the first week of January and are currently being stored in the Foundation Room in the basement.  The new condenser unit, to provide cooling for the elevator mechanical room, has been installed in the light well off the second floor, and technicians are stringing the plumbing and electrical lines.

On 12 January, the concrete was poured for the garbage enclosure in the parking lot (which will become stroller parking once the elevator work is complete).  Workers are awaiting the fencing for the enclosure, as well as for the new doors for the Saulter Street exit (which will act as the only entrance for the building when the Queen Street lobby needs to be closed for elevator work).

Despite the delays, completion of the elevator is expected around 12 March.

Fifth Update – 3 January 2018

Work has begun on the temporary entry to the library.  Being built along the Saulter Street side of the building, the structure will consist of a ramp, to provide an accessible option for those with mobility challenges, along with a temporary vestibule at the entrance.  The vestibule is necessary due to the heritage nature of the building and the prohibition of securing automated doors to the existing wood frame.  The ramp should be completed by the end of this week or the beginning of the week of 8 January.  Once the accessible entrance is complete, the elevator can be decommissioned.

Pouring the concrete for the pad in the parking lot is anticipated to take place shortly, although the cold weather may cause some delays. This fenced area will house the garbage bins during construction and will be stroller parking once the elevator is operational.

Meanwhile, drilling the holes for the conduits to accommodate the cooling system for the elevator mechanical room were completed before the holidays.  These holes create a path from the basement, through one of the offices in the library, and on to the mezzanine.  This will link the mechanical room (near the elevator door in the basement) to a cooling unit that will be placed in the light well on the west side of the building.  Technicians are expected in the building on Thursday to begin installation of the lines.

When the technicians are working, the entire basement will be closed to the public.  This includes the public washrooms in the basement.  Those wishing to use our washrooms will find facilities available on the second and third floors.

Delivery of various elevator parts is expected this week.  If possible, delivery will take place down the south stairs, to minimize disruption to the public.

Fourth Update – 14 December 2018

Work is underway on the pad in the parking lot, which will be the site of the enclosure for the garbage and recycling bins while the elevator is out of commission.

The space has been excavated and the ground compacted.  While excavating the site, the remnants of an old window well were discovered.  The window still exists in the washroom in the south end of the building – primarily used by the Child-Parent Centre and our After School Program.  The window well extends under the stairs to the Saulter Street exit.  A slab of concrete will be created to recap the window well, to prevent water and debris from collecting in the window well, but to also allow for removal, if necessary.

Concrete for the pad in the parking lot should be poured around 19 December, when the temperature is expected to be above freezing.  A heating blanket is covering the space to keep the ground from freezing, and a special additive is included with the cement to allow it to set properly in the winter.

Meanwhile, manufacture of the components for the new elevator are on schedule.  The equipment is expected to be delivered to the Centre on 3 January.  These will be stored in the basement’s Foundation Room.  All programming in the basement will be relocated to other parts of the building at that time.

X-raying of portions of the building was carried out on 28 November.  Because of the thickness of some of the concrete slabs that make up the library’s floor, the results were inconclusive.  As a result, the drilling for the conduits will need to be replaced with more intensive work, so that the contractors can make adjustments if they encounter reinforcing bars or beams.  The conduits are required for the new ventilation system for the elevator mechanical room.

Construction of the ramp to provide accessible entry to the library has been delayed.  Because of the heritage nature of the building, temporary accessible doors cannot be mounted on the existing wood door frame.  Neither can any structure be attached directly to the stone walls.  A free-standing, temporary wood vestibule will be constructed at the library entrance to allow for the temporary door to be mounted, and a ramp will be built to the vestibule.  Work on the ramp and vestibule is expected to begin within the first two weeks of January.

Until the library is accessible, the current elevator will remain in operation.  It is now anticipated that the elevator will not be shut down for decommissioning until the week of 15 January.  Contractors are reviewing the construction schedule, and it is unknown at this time whether the completion date will be pushed back.

Once the revised timeline is received, it will be summarized on this page.

Third Update – 17 November 2017

Planning and pre-construction work continues on the elevator.

Portions of the building will be x-rayed early in the week of 20 November.  X-raying is necessary to properly locate where drilling should take place in running the necessary conduits from the elevator mechanical room to the outside space adjacent to the mezzanine, for the new cooling units.  To ensure that there is no risk to the public, the x-raying will start at 10 pm and go until about 2 am.

The contractors are waiting for the required permit in order to begin work on the garbage enclosure at the south end of the building.  Once the permit has been issued, a portion of the asphalt will be removed to install the concrete pad and fencing.

Final details are being worked on to create an accessible entrance for the library.  A temporary ramp will be constructed along the Saulter Street side of the building, and automatic doors will be installed for the duration of the construction work.

Despite the small delays in this preconstruction work, it is not anticipated that it will cause a delay in the actual installation of the new elevator or the anticipated completion date.

Second Update – 3 November 2017

Visitors to the Centre will have noticed the most obvious sign that work is about to begin on the elevator: the building permits have been issued and are posted on our entrance.

Planning for the work continues, with regular site visits by the contractors and their engineers to map out the installation of the cooling system for the elevator mechanical room.  Surprisingly, the mechanical room currently has little ventilation – a small grate vents into the hallway and the hydraulic system is cooled by upright fans!

In planning the precise route for the conduits for this work, portions of the building will need to be x-rayed, to ensure that any drilling does not come into contact with vital reinforcing bars or electrical systems.  The x-raying will take place at times when the building is empty, so this work will not pose a risk to our program users, space users, or staff.  The x-raying should take only a few hours and it is expected to occur in the coming week.

It is also hoped that work on the concrete pad for the garbage enclosure (later to become the stroller parking enclosure) will begin by the end of next week (before Friday 10 November) or early the following week (around Monday 13 November).  This work will entail pulling up the asphalt in the parking spot closest to the building, compacting the soil, and pouring a concrete pad.

During this portion of work, a portion of the parking lot will be fenced off.  Since the rear lot is for staff and deliveries only, this will not affect visitors to the Centre.  Allowances will be made to ensure that access to the South Riverdale Child-Parent Centre is not impeded.

An updated timeline for the work is expected around 16 November.

First Update – 24 October 2017

As you may have heard (or experienced), the current elevator at the Centre is showing its age.  It groans and moans, it creeps and lurches, and sometimes it goes wandering.  And its days are numbered.

The replacement of the RTCC elevator was included in the City’s Capital Plan.  For the first half of 2017, engineers and consultants worked on the elevator replacement,  preparing drawings and drafting the bid documents.  At the beginning of October, the contract was signed with the construction firm who will be undertaking the project.

Currently, the necessary parts are being ordered and manufactured.  The latest timeline on the elevator work is:

  • The current elevator will be decommissioned and removed starting at the beginning of January 2018.
  • Installation of the new elevator will take place in February 2018.
  • The new elevator should be up and running around the first week of March 2018.

The elevator will remain fully operational through the remainder of 2017.

Once the elevator has been decommissioned, access to the third floor, second floor, and the mezzanine will only be possible using the stairs.  During the work, there may be times when the front lobby is closed and the Saulter Street exit and rear stairs will be the primary entrance to the building.

In addition, likely starting in December, the basement program area will be closed and used by the construction crew as a storage/staging area for the elevator work.

Leading up to the main elevator project, some of the necessary pre-construction work will take place, such as:

  • Preparing for new cooling units for the elevator mechanical room in November 2017.
  • A lockup for garbage bins will be built in the rear parking lot in November 2017.  This space will be converted into stroller parking after construction has ended.
  • A temporary ramp will be constructed to ensure accessibility to the library, and the wood doors to the library will be temporarily replaced with accessible doors in December 2017.  During the elevator construction, the wood doors will be refinished and preserved and replaced once construction is complete.
  • The Saulter Street door, which is deteriorating and will act as the main entrance at times during the construction, will be permanently replaced with a new metal door in December 2017.

The Ralph Thornton Community Centre is grateful for the outstanding work by City staff in moving forward this project, and to Councillor Fletcher in her advocacy to make sure that the elevator remained a priority.