Local 793 operator Josh Horner maneuvers the mammoth LB44 rotary drill rig into position and prepares for a dig.
The shaft is slowly lowered and the auger bites into the ground, sending a cloud of dirt and dust into the air.
All in a day’s work for Josh.
The 32-year-old was working for Zublin Inc. on the $5.3-billion Eglinton Crosstown light-rail transit project at Eglinton and Oakwood avenues in Toronto.
He was doing a caisson wall for the subway.
“We’re going pretty good,” says Josh. “Everyone is working good together. We’ve got a pretty good crew.”
Josh started at the project in September. He figures it will take seven or eight months to complete the work.
The Crosstown will run across Eglinton Avenue between Mount Dennis and Kennedy Station. The 19-kilometre corridor will include a 10-kilometre underground portion, between Keele Street and Laird Drive.
It is the largest transit expansion in the history of Toronto.
The drill rig operated by Josh is one of the most powerful drilling rigs on the market. It weighs about 173 tonnes.
Josh has been running drill rigs for roughly 12 years.
He got into the industry through a friend.
“I got my crane ticket and started out with conventional cranes and then crane-mounted drills and I got into driving piles, and then Watson drill rigs and stuff like that.”
Over the years, Josh has operated just about everything.
“In this business, you kind of jump around a little bit and I’ve worked on all kinds of stuff.”
Brett Jamieson, 39, was operating a loader at the site for Zublin. The loader had an attachment that enabled him to pick up liners for the drill rig operator.
Brett, who’s been in the union eight years, was taking dirt away and loading it onto a dump truck.
It was tricky work as the project site was small.
“I’ve got to keep that drill moving and move the spoils to make sure he can move to his next location.”
Brett started at the site in September.
“The job’s been going really good,” he says. “I have no complaints.”
Brett was a roadbuilder for years but decided he wanted to run heavy equipment.
“One thing led to another and here I am,” he says. “It’s good steady year-round-work and that’s nice.”
Brett’s worked on many large projects in the Greater Toronto Area. He operates loaders and excavators mostly, and works on projects with drill rigs.
Edione Lages, another Local 793 operator, was helping Brett at the site.
“This is a good job,” he says. “Everything is going nice and smooth.”
The 32-year-old also works for Zublin and has been operating heavy equipment for about six years.
“I love it,” he says. “It’s a good occupation and it’s fun.”
Edione worked as a welder but wanted to run heavy equipment. So, he switched careers.
As an operator, he’s worked on projects at York University, Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, and in Halton, Oakville and Brantford.
“I hope to continue with this type of job,” says Edione. “It’s good.”