What is Happening with this Existing Pipeline in Burlington?

There is a big piece of infrastructure that is going to get worked on that cuts right through the western part of the Greater Golden Horseshoe, and Burlington is right in the middle of it.

Imperial Oils Sarnia Products Pipeline, constructed during the 1950s, carries refined gasoline, diesel and jet fuel to Pearson International Airport, running from the Finch Terminal in North York, across the Western GTA region to Waterdown Station in Hamilton.

The project will consist of replacing approximately 63 kilometres of the existing line with new pipe:A portion of that pipeline runs through Burlington north of Highway 403, specifically through Wards 3 and 6, as the map below shows:

Environmental and cultural assessments started this spring, and subject to provincial regulatory reviews and receiving all permits, Imperial expects construction to start in 2019.A series of public information sessions were held back in July in Oakville, Mississauga, Burlington, Milton, Toronto and Hamilton.

Based on the engineering and environmental surveys, Imperial will perform two construction techniques: open cut construction and trenchless technology:


Open Cut Construction

Open cut construction is the fastest method for pipeline installation, and involves these steps:

  • Lay and bend the pipe to match contours of the land.

  • Weld, test and inspect the pipe.

  • Lower pipe into the trench and cover it for protection.


Trenchless technology

A horizontal directional drill (HDD) is a method of installing underground pipe using a drilling rig at the surface level. It is best used at sensitive areas, or in dense residential or commercial areas. The following steps are to be taken:

  • Drill a hole along a designed directional path.

  • Enlarge the pilot hole to a diameter suitable for installation of the pipeline.

  • Pull the pipeline back into the enlarged hole.


The existing pipeline will continue to operate reliably until the Waterdown to Finch Project is complete.

If you're wondering about environmental assessments, Imperial indicated that they are conducting a comprehensive planning process in order to:

  • Evaluate piping routing.

  • Describe the existing natural and social environment.

  • Assessing potential environmental effects.

  • Outlining safety and proposed mitigation measures.

Some of those specific measures include:

Regulatory approval will be sought from a number of federal / provincial agencies, as well as municipalities and conservation authorities.

More information on the Waterdown Pipeline project about other areas such as indigenous collaboration, minimizing construction impacts, or safe pipeline deactivation can be found here.

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