Tough, Bold, Sharp & Tireless.
That’s the incredible team at GFL Environmental as they install shoring and excavation on the magnificent towers at Mirvish Village in Toronto, Canada.
A purpose-built rental apartment community with innovative retail, Mirvish Village strives to inspire with enormous potential. Our passion-driven GFL Environmental crew is busy on-site drilling spectacularly deep holes to shore up the walls in the excavation. With colossal machines!
Every story starts somewhere. This job site starts at the historic Toronto location of Honest Ed’s Discount Warehouse. Ed Mirvish, the late owner of Honest Ed’s, is now being immortalized with the Mirvish Village. The personalities of the Canadian based construction crew inspire passion and fascination for the machines, the work and building structures that change the shape of their beloved city. This job isn’t for everyone, but for some, their passion is as deep as the holes they drill.
Even though Mirvish Village is one of the projects that I’m assigned to, we’re not just on one project at one time. I’ll be able to ideally hit every single job site that I’m assigned to. You’re on the project that’s called The Well. The Well is one of the largest, if not the largest, excavations in North America right now. The project’s so large, there’s multiple buildings at different stages, that they’ve actually awarded the project to two general contractors to be able to actually have the construction management process go efficiently.
My name’s Blair Miles with GFL we’re here in Toronto, Canada, today on a major shoring project that we got on the go, it’s called Mirvish Village.
I think you’ll be quite impressed on how the whole project works. So the ground that we’re standing on originally was a very, very famous landmark in Toronto. It was called the Honest Ed’s. We started here, I’m going to say six months ago. You can still see some of the old structures that are being retained, as far as the heritage perspective goes. Eventually what you’ll see behind me is, there will be condo towers here that people will eventually be moving in.
We’ll excavate down in lifts, the machines digging down. So they’ll dig down so far in the excavation. And then we’ll come along, as we’ve put in the shoring, and we’ll put in our tie backs to actually, I’ll say to pin back the wall, to actually hold back the wall. And we’ll install what we call the tie back. We’ll drill it into the wall. We’ll put a steel cable and grout it into the wall. And they actually tension that cable, put tension on it, and lock it in so it holds that shoring wall back, and allows you to keep excavating down as you go.
All right, now we’re going to extend the lead casings here, so that we can make room for our rods, send it all the way out. We have six meters of leads on. Close the lower jaw. We’ll break the casing, and thread from the casing, and scope the head all the way back. And we’ll extend the inner rod head.
We’re about 80% complete. We’re drilling 34 meters on the shoring, and currently working on the east side of the property right now.
Okay. Here’s a tieback that we just drilled yesterday. It’s been post grouted. We’re getting ready for the welders to install. We’ll have to clean the platform. At which point they’ll come over, install the chair and in approximately seven more days, that will allow us to stress this tie back and hold the pile back, once the stress is complete. Okay. So once drilling has been completed on the tie back, this is a chair that we have to install for the Jack, for stressing. There’s several steps to this. We have the chair, we have a bearing plate, a tee, and we even put on a sheare plate, just because of the force can knock this chair off. So we really beef this up. So Jack goes on, and we’re taking this particular one up to a thousand kilometers.
The team at GFL is actually, kind of a unique environment. We’ve actually amalgamated a couple of different companies together. We have had Deep Foundation and Anchor Shoring together. They were two very family oriented companies, that have actually merged together. So it’s kind of a unique balance of that corporate side of things, where we’re able to actually get projects to this size, make a big difference in the city, as well as you still have that really tight-knit group. And we’re kind of just an open book, more of a family. Even just during the daytime, we have our serious face on, we’re doing the work. But after work we’re shooting messages back and forth. We’re sharing pictures and images, little memes, jokes, stuff like that. Because at the end of the day, like this is a very stressful industry. But if you’re able to actually laugh and joke about it afterwards, it makes it that much worthwhile coming into work.
Throughout my whole career, I’ve been doing all the shoring. It is the one thing that fascinates me the most. I love shoring. The big machines is fire me. They are they’re massive. The things that we do are just staying in history.
I didn’t know what shoring was seven years ago. I thought it was something you do by the seaside.
After I graduated university in Denmark, my first job was a shoring job, and immediately I fell in love with it. And I fell in love with the people that are working it. Because every single person that shows up to work today loves his job. And that sense of family and belong to something, that makes me love it every single day.
Oh, I definitely have a passion for this industry. I wouldn’t be coming in here in the cold and minus 30, plus 30, degree weather, slugging it out into the trenches with the mud, getting dirty, concrete all over you. It’s definitely passion driven. That’s why, if you go around on any of these job sites, you’re not going to find anybody that says, I hate my job. If you hate your job, you can find somewhere else to work that’s a lot cleaner, a lot easier than trying to do this for a living.
So a lot of people believe that construction is a very demanding and difficult job. I completely agree with that, but that does not stop me to have a life and enjoy my life. And I keep on telling my guys the most important people that you work for are the people at home. This is just a job. We have to do the task, and then go home and enjoy our lives. I have two wonderful kids, 12 and 8, and a wonderful man by my side. I am mostly, primarily a taxi at home. I drive them to Taekwondo for my daughter. I drive them to swimming for my son and I manage. It is very possible.
In my spare time I like actually kicking my boots off. I don’t really do a lot of hands-on project work. I’m more, I’m a bit of an inspiring chef at times. I really enjoy being in the kitchen. And I throw on some music, I’m cooking, I’m doing the thing, I’m chopping everything. I also really enjoy hiking, a little archery. And I do a lot of kayaking in the summertime, when the weather permits.
I went to college and did an actual drilling program at, [inaudible 00:07:09] Fleming here in Lindsay, Ontario, Canada. And from that, I came out into this industry and have basically kept educating myself and have worked my way into to what I’m doing now.
As long as you stay dedicated, you pay attention and you have a hunger to learn, you’re able to actually grow exponentially throughout the entire industry. You’re not just labeled as laborer or an operator.
I would advise people to explore within themselves, what do they want to do and what they want to achieve in life. That is the most important thing. It might be construction. That’s fine. It doesn’t matter if you are a woman or a man, whatever is the thing that makes you happy, just go and do it.
Going into an office, I wouldn’t be able to do that kind of environment. That nine to five, you show up, you sit around the water cooler, you complain about photocopiers not working properly. Something like that. It’s just two tedious. But if you are really actually hungry, and want to learn, and want to work, this is the place to be. I do own a suit, but the only time I ever wear that is the Christmas party, maybe somebody’s wedding. But other than that, I take pride in wearing a pair of boots, wearing a pair of jeans, throwing on a jacket and being able to go out, do my work, not worried about getting dirty. I don’t care if people have that opinion about me. I take pride in what I do.