Drainstar Contracting

Pumping out Toronto’s vital sewer and water main projects for 25 years
Written by: 
Molly Shaw
Produced by: 
Sean Barr

To keep a city the size of Toronto running, it is what lies below the surface that counts. Between water mains, filtration plants, valves, hydrants, pumping stations and various systems, Toronto has more than $9 billion in water assets. For 25 years, Drainstar Contracting has worked to keep vital water and sewer infrastructure up and running, no matter the size, scope or difficulty of the job.

“Drainstar does a variety of work, but we’re known for tackling the complex jobs only a handful of city contractors will take on,” tells Mario D’Orazio, co-founder and president of Drainstar. “Things involving large pipes, deep excavations and major traffic headaches in the midst of all that go on in a city the size of Toronto –that’s what we do.”

Working throughout GTA

D’Orazio established Drainstar with his partner, Claudio Petti, company vice president, in 1990, after completing undergraduate studies in civil engineering technology in Toronto. “We’ve been in business for 25 years and that speaks for itself,” measures D’Orazio. “Another thing that sets our company a part is Claudio and I are very hands on. Day by day, I am in the office and site and Claudio looks after our fleet of equipment.”

Since inception, Drainstar has been building its name as a trusted municipal sewer and water main contractor in the greater Toronto area and D’Orazio says the daily scope of work is anything but run of the mill. Based in Concord, Ontario, just outside of the city, Drainstar now deploys 40 employees, ready to tackle whatever the depths of Toronto throw at them.

Municipal contracts

As a municipal contractor, D’Orazio says Drainstar is tasked with strict schedules and uncompromised contracts. “There are specifications and standard drawings and guidelines you have to abide by,” he suggests. “There’s a black and white contract and whatever is in the contract is the standard you have to build to. There’s very little wiggle room.”

This is one reason Drainstar performs nearly all aspects of construction in house, with the exception of asphalt paving, concrete curbs, sidewalks and landscaping. “We don’t really use anyone who’s strange in the business in terms of subs,” tells D’Orazio. “We don’t just go out and pick a sub trade off the Internet; we like to work with people we know have the same type of reputation as we do.”

Drainstar only calls on trusted trades, especially in the case of specialized projects such as 700 meters of micro tunneling. “A recent challenge was micro tunneling a water main in Richmond Hill with several curves in the route,” tells D’Orazio. “In addition to the long distance, working around these curves made it a very difficult project. In this case, Drainstar sub-contractor utilized a steerable micro tunneling machine to get to the distance needed to install the water main. Meanwhile, we had to mitigate a lot of commuter traffic and bad ground conditions.”

“We have also micro tunneled in an environmentally sensitive area near Lake Wilcox,” adds D’Orazio.

The deep, the ugly and the traffic congested –Drainstar tackles it. “Two and a half years ago we worked on 5 kilometers of water main on Avenue Road from Lawrence Avenue to DuPont Street,” tells D’Orazio. “There were many challenges and a lot of traffic to control over the course of two and a half years.”

In the heart of Toronto, Drainstar also has experience installing massive box culverts, necessary to collect storm water. “These large, rectangular-shaped culverts act as an important storage area for storm water, helping control the basement flooding that often occurs in Toronto,” explains D’Orazio. “Installing one of these culverts can take up a whole lane of traffic so it’s always a logistical challenge.”

By making a name in municipal contracting, D’Orazio says Drainstar has secured a solid position in the Toronto market, allowing the company to weather any economic storm. “There’s always going to be economic ups and downs, but we’ve been in this field for 25 years and that says something,” he assures. “When you have the capabilities and reputation you can wade through any downturn.”

July 2015 marks 25 years in business for Drainstar Contracting and the company remains a trusted infrastructure contractor, keeping vital systems running in Toronto and beyond.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
Furfair Paving
Strada Aggregate
Yorkwest Plumbing