The Regional Municipality of York was presented with the Peter J. Marshall Innovation Award for its York Durham Sewage System Forcemain Twinning Project.

The project broke records for the use of innovative microtunneling technology, which reduced disruption to the public and environment. The Plaque Award was presented to York Region Chairman and CEO, Wayne Emmerson, and Chief of Staff, Lina Bigioni at the 2022 the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Conference in Ottawa.

“As one of the fastest-growing municipalities in Ontario, we need to make sure our aging infrastructure is met with innovative solutions to serve our communities,” said Emmerson. “Using state of the art, record-setting microtunnelling design and construction, York Region was able to minimize impacts to the community and natural environment, all while tunnelling through busy streets, trails and even crossing rivers. By twinning the forcemain, we were able to build system resiliency, reduce greenhouse gasses and maintain essential water and wastewater services for the more than 1.2 million residents who call York Region home.”

Microtunnelling technology relies on an unmanned, laser-guided boring machine controlled remotely by an above-ground operator. It minimizes road or land access closures, reduces the need to excavate and backfill, and reduces the size and number of construction sites. The technology was used to tunnel seven different stretches, for a total of 5.6 kilometres, making it one of the longest microtunnel projects in Canada’s history.

York Region created a project to twin the existing sewage system forcemain in the Town of Newmarket to provide redundancy for aging infrastructure, improve system reliability and reduce environmental risk. The project also increases capacity for growth.

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Ward and Burke microtunnel boring machine. (York Region)

The microtunnelling technology was particularly helpful for this pipeline because it travels along highly urbanized areas, rail lines and under water courses. The Region worked with partners at Town of Newmarket, and the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority and engaged with elected officials and the public throughout the project. Infrastructure Canada supported the project by providing $48 million in funding through the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF), recognizing this project’s role in addressing climate related risks.

The P.J. Marshall Award is an annual competitive process to acknowledge municipalities who have had creativity and success in implementing new, innovative ways of serving the public. It is sponsored by AMO, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks & Treasurers of Ontario, the Canadian Council for Public Private Partnerships, the Municipal Finance Officers’ Association, and the Ontario Municipal Administrators’ Association.

Featured image: Aerial view of sending shaft at Fairy Lake work area (York Region)

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