Infrastructure rehabilitation


We rely on infrastructure - roads, sidewalks, underground pipes, etc. - every day. With that level of usage, maintaining the condition of our infrastructure is a critical and continuous effort, which we manage through various rehabilitation projects each year.

But what does that mean for the neighbourhoods around these projects?

The following list of frequently-asked questions and answers about infrastructure rehabilitation explains some of the work that goes into our rehabilitation work - and what you can expect if you live near one of our planned projects.

What is infrastructure rehabilitation?

If only one or two types of infrastructure in one area (above and/or below the ground) need upgrading, a total reconstruction of all the infrastructure may not be necessary. Instead, we may rehabilitate and upgrade only the infrastructure in need to an acceptable condition and operating standard.

As a result, rehabilitation is generally much less costly than a full reconstruction project, which would result in the replacement of most or all of the existing infrastructure.

Sometimes rehabilitation treatments are proactively undertaken before infrastructure degrades to an unacceptable level to save on the cost of full rehabilitation or reconstruction work, and prolong the infrastructure's natural lifespan.

What infrastructure rehabilitation techniques are used?

The differences between, for example, a road and a buried pipe are significant, which means the rehabilitation techniques we use to improve each type of infrastructure must vary too.

Here are some of the more typical rehabilitation applications for different types of infrastructure.


The most common rehabilitation technique for roads is to grind off the top several inches of worn asphalt from the surface with a large machine. New asphalt is then laid - a process we often refer to as 'shave and pave.' This will protect the underlying road structure from traffic wear and water damage, and slow its natural degradation - extending the road structure's lifespan. As well, this provides a new, smooth surface for vehicles using the road.

Another technique often used for roads is the application of a sealant to the existing road surface to prevent water from entering cracks and causing further damage. This can involve applying either a tar-like sealant over each crack (crack sealing), or a slurry-like material on the entire road surface that hardens to create a protective layer on top of the asphalt (slurry sealing). This process can also improve the smoothness of the surface for vehicles.

Underground pipes

Rehabilitating underground pipes usually involves applying a new lining to the inside surface of the pipe, while that pipe is still in the ground. This lining will seal any leakage the pipe may be experiencing, and may provide added structural strength to the pipe -- extending its lifespan. This process usually involves accessing an end of the buried pipe through either a small pit excavation or an access chamber, such as a manhole. The lining is then applied by either sending a robot into the pipe to install the material, or inflating a flexible liner into the pipe that will harden.


Damaged or degrading sections of sidewalks are usually cut out and replaced by new segments. If the surface of a sidewalk is uneven, we will inject a grout-like material underneath the low section of sidewalk to raise the concrete back to its intended height can be used - a process often called 'mudjacking.'

How could this work affect me?

Most rehabilitation techniques near one particular home can be completed in a few days - or less. However, the work may continue in the broader neighbourhood for a longer period.

Disruption to traffic can include temporary road closures, depending on the nature of the required work. If access to a neighbourhood will be affected, we will notify area residents before we start the work.

Rehabilitation of underground pipes may cause the surrounding neighbourhood to lose access to water or sewer service temporarily; this shouldn't last for more than a few hours. Unfortunately, such disruptions are unavoidable. In such cases, we will try to minimize any inconvenience.

How are these projects carried out?

For the most part, we don't have our own rehabilitation crews or equipment. We usually contract rehabilitation work out to a private construction company that's chosen through a competitive bidding process.

Usually, each rehabilitation technique is performed under an individual contract. In other words, if a certain technique is required for either one project or a series of projects over the course of a construction season, that work is performed by one company. However, we manage the planning, design, management and day-to-day work.

Each rehabilitation project is assigned a contact person for residents to reach with comments or concerns. This person can be the designated program manager, a city engineer or your ward councillor.

How is rehabilitation work funded?

Work to sewer mains and water mains are funded through the fees all users of water and sewer services pay to use the systems (i.e. your water bill).

Road work can be funded through either our general tax levy or transfer payments from higher levels of government, while sidewalk work is always funded through the general tax levy.


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