Deciphering Underground Find

By Kevin Masterman, Toronto Police Service Published: 10:29 a.m. February 24, 2015
Updated: 2:47 p.m. March 2, 2015

Police are satisfied two men who built an underground chamber near York University didn't have criminal intentions.

A ladder leading underground with electrical cables running into it
A view from the entrance of the chamber

Police originally went to the public to help ascertain who built an underground chamber near York University campus and why.

Many tips came in and two men in their 20s were interviewed. They will not face criminal charges but could face bylaw or provincial statute offences.

The underground structure was discovered by a Toronto and Region Conservation Officer on January 14 who came upon a large amount of excavated earth near the fence line of the Rexall Centre Sports and Entertainment Complex.

“We’re trying to find and establish who built it, why they built it and what were their intentions,” Deputy Chief Mark Saunders said, of the find in the heavily wooded Black Creek parkland 82 feet from the fenceline of tennis courts at the Rexall Centre.

“There is nothing to suggest criminality,” said Saunders, noting that digging the tunnel may break provincial statutes or bylaws but there is no criminal intent. “I don’t have a working theory. We’re open. We go with the evidence.”

Police responded and found the chamber, which lay 10 feet underground and spanned 33 feet, was over 6 feet high and nearly three-feet wide supported by lumber. There is no evidence of machinery used in the excavation of the tunnel.

“This was built with a considerable amount of sophistication,” said Saunders, of the structure built with 2 x 8 wood framing and plywood walls. “The individuals responsible for building it clearly had some expertise in structural integrity.”

Saunders said the Toronto Police Service has consulted with provincial, national and international partners during the investigation and have discovered no links at this time to a terrorist threat.

A necklace of beads with a crucifix and a red poppy attached
Rosary beads and a poppy found in the underground chamber
A map showing a river and the Rexall Centre as well as tennis courts
The site is situated in a conservation area along Black Creek near the Rexall Centre and York University Keele Campus

He also noted the entrance was concealed by dirt over a wood lid.

Police found a gas can, food and beverage containers, work gloves, a wheel barrow, as well as moisture-resistant light bulbs, a gas generator and a sump pump to remove ground water.

There were also rosary beads with a crucifix and a poppy affixed to it and hanging from a nail inside.

Photo Journal of Tunnel Evidence

News Conference regarding discovery of underground chamber

Investigators want to hear from anyone who may have seen something suspicious in the area or someone moving building materials in the area.

Police collected all the forensic evidence from the tunnel that has now been filled in.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-3100, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at  222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or Leave A Tip on Facebook. Download the free Crime Stoppers Mobile App on iTunes, Google Play or Blackberry App World.

A tunnel framed by lumber with a dirt floor
A 33-foot-long tunnel supported using lumber
TPS crest watermark