Hawkins Contracting transforms brownfield into new parkland in Etobicoke

Hawkins Contracting is using a Komatsu’s D51PXi-24 dozer to build the Grand Avenue Park in Etobicoke

By Bill Tremblay

Komatsu’s intelligent Machine Control is helping Hawkins Contracting carve out a new green space in southern Etobicoke. 

The Stouffville, Ontario-based Hawkins Contracting was recruited by the City of Toronto to transform former brownfield sites into the new Grand Avenue Park. 

The new recreational space will see the grounds of a former waste facility, water treatment plant and a smaller plot of green space combined to create the new three-acre park.

“It’s a bit of a restoration project. This chunk of land is basically three different properties going into one,” said Hawkins site supervisor Scott Mingay. 

When completed the new Grand Avenue Park will include a multi-use sports field, splash pad, off-leash dog area, parking lot, stadium lights, walkways and washroom building. 

As well, a portion of the park will serve as a storm water retention pond for the surrounding neighbourhood, in case of heavy rainfall. 

“It serves a function, but it’s a public space as well,” Mingay said.  

As a brownfield site, before construction could begin the contaminated soil left behind by the previous facilities had to be removed or contained. 

“It’s not radioactive stuff in the ground, but we have to cap it. We had to put a minimum of 1 metre of clean fill on top of it,” Mingay said. 

Komatsu’s D51PXi-24 dozer

To complete the job, Hawkins Contracting acquired a Komatsu D51PXi-24 dozer from Equipment Sales and Service (ESS)

The D51PXi-24 features a Tier 4 Final, 131 hp engine, a maximum operating weight of 14,260 kg and a blade capacity of 3.4 cubic metres. 

The dozer is equipped with a dual-path, hydrostatic transmission, which provides infinite speed changes up to 9 km per hour. The variable capacity travel motors allow the operator to select the optimum speed to match specific jobs. 

Hydrostatic steering eliminates steering clutches and brakes, providing smooth and powerful turns. Fully electronic control provides complete automatic shifting and enables smooth control. Engine speed is controlled using an electronic fuel control dial.

As well, the Parallel Link Undercarriage System (PLUS) rotating bush design provides less downtime, longer wear and delivers up to 40 per cent lower undercarriage maintenance costs than a conventional undercarriage. 

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Rotating bushings eliminate the cost and downtime for bushing turns, and strengthened rollers and links increase wear life up to two times. With PLUS, links can be replaced with common track tools.

With a new dozer on site, Hawkins also gave their operator Josh Charnichovsky the opportunity to use the blade. While Charnichovsky has operated most of the other machines in Hawkins’ mixed fleet of equipment, the Grand Avenue Park project was his first time using a dozer. 

The D51PXi-24 is equipped with Komatsu’s Intelligent Machine Control, which helped flatten the learning curve. 

“The features helped out a lot when I first started with it,” Charnichovsky said. “Being able to hold that grade helped speed things up for me. And it made me look like I knew what I was doing.”

Intelligent Machine Control is a factory installed integrated system, and according to Komatsu, the system has many advantages over dozers with external grade control systems. The system does not require blade-mounted GNSS antennas or cables to worry about damaging with cab top GNSS antenna. This also reduces the risk of theft, due to low visibility as viewed from ground level.

Automated blade control

From rough dozing to finish grading, the D51PXi-24 has Automated Blade Control. The blade is able to move to its target surface until the load reaches a preset level. As well, the blade will automatically raise to minimize track slip, and if the load decreases, the blade will lower to re-load to an optimum level.

“For stripping sod and topsoil, we only wanted to take off 4 to 6 inches. As a new operator, it wouldn’t have taken much to mess that up,” Charnichovsky said. “Overall the GPS works pretty well, and it’s built in which is nice.” 

He added the ability to operate in “hybrid mode” was also a benefit. 

“If you give it a little user input, it will hold that grade throughout the whole pass. It’s a great feature,” Charnichovsky said.

Another beneficial feature of the dozer is the ability to create working GPS files from the cab. 

“We didn’t have to send it out to our GPS guy to make files,” Charnichovsky said. “You can take different grades and input it into the machine and it will create a surface. Now you can cut or fill based off those grades.” 

Since Hawkins Contracting began working on Grand Avenue Park, Charnichovsky has logged about 500 hours on the D51PXi-24 dozer. He’s confident the dozer is the right machine for the job. 

“We’ve pushed and spread tons of dirt. It’s worked out really well for what we need to do,” he said. “You can use it for bulk pushes, but you can also use it for finish grading. And anything bigger than this, we couldn’t use for all these paths.”

Construction of the first phase of the Grand Avenue Park is expected to be completed by next spring. 

About Hawkins Contracting

Hawkins Contracting was founded in 2009. The family business works as general contractors in utilities, infrastructure, environmental and landscape construction. 

With more than 35 team members, the company has completed more than 1,000 projects to date. 

As well, the company is one of few contractors in Southern Ontario to achieve COR certification without the help of a consultant.  In 2019, Hawkins won the WSIB Small Business Health and Safety Leadership Award.