March 15, 2009
An LO member, Oakridge Landscape Contractors of Hannon, near Hamilton, was an important part of the team that won the Ontario Public Works Association’s Environment Award. The award was presented to the City of Hamilton for its Chedoke Creek Remediation Project.

President of Oakridge Landscape Contractors, Herman Ciardullo feels this type of government project is a great opportunity for growth that members of the industry should investigate. “As markets change and the economy potentially shrinks, it is important to think outside of the standard box that we landscapers often find ourselves living within. There is more to our industry than high-end pavers, square cut flagstone and ornamental trees and shrubs. There are all kinds of new and exciting avenues that we should be exploring.”

Early in 2007 Oakridge was invited to participate in the Chedoke Creek Remediation Project as a sub trade to Rankin Construction. “Our team quickly jumped on the opportunity to work on the project. It was a great chance to expand our horizons further into the green infrastructure industry. As owners, we have recognized that even during a slow economy, infrastructure work typically continues as governments pour funds into these types of projects,” says Ciardullo.

Calling the project especially interesting, Ciardullo explains that the City of Hamilton decided to use a bio-engineering approach rather than the standard concrete approach. He feels the city used this approach because of the project’s natural characteristics, the costs and lifespan, and most of all a much lower carbon footprint in comparison to concrete.

The project is located in Hamilton, along the west side of Highway 403, between King Street and Cootes Paradise. The objective was to control leachate from nearby closed landfill site and to realign the creek which was eroding land towards the highway.

Oakridge’s initial objective was the installation of bank stabilization structures and re-vegetation of the east bank along the creek. Ciardullo explains, “This involved a construction of live crib walls, using logs that were recovered from the city’s forestry department.  As the walls were constructed, they were back-filled with a special matrix of soil and stone.” He explains that this mixture helped stabilize the wall, yet provided a good growth medium for the live willow and dogwood cuttings that were planted within the crib.

“Our second objective was the installation of seven log vanes. Log vanes were installed in order to enhance fish habitat, as well as to attract various types of birds and other animal species to the creek side,” said Ciardullo.

The final stage of Oakridge’s participation included the supply and installation of various types of erosion control mats and seed along the roadways that lend access to the creek as well as in the flatter creek areas.

“We at Oakridge Landscape Contractors are very proud of our contribution in completing the work. More importantly, we are pleased that we have recognized the importance of this growing market and have had success within it,” said Herman Ciardullo.

Caption: Crib walls used logs that were recovered from the city’s forestry department.