The Burlington Canal Lift Bridge

The Burlington Canal Lift Bridge is critical to shipping in southern Ontario. It allows access to commercial vessels that deliver supplies from all around the world. Dave Thomson tells us how proud he is of his work as one of the bridge's operators.

Transcript: Bridge Operator for Burlington Canal Lift Bridge

[Music plays]

Start of video

(Text on screen: Public Services and Procurement Canada)

[Pan shot from left to right of the Burlington Canal Lift Bridge.]

[Shot of the Burlington Canal Lift Bridge, which a transport truck crosses.]

[Shot of Dave Thomson speaking.]

(Text on screen: Dave Thomson, Bridge Operator, Burlington Canal Lift Bridge, Public Services and Procurement Canada)

My name is Dave Thomson. I'm a bridge operator at the Burlington Canal Lift Bridge.

[Shot of a Canadian flag is waving outside of the bridge control station.]

[Shot of a Public Works and Government Services Canada sign is affixed to the bridge, identifying “Burlington Canal Lift Bridge”, as part of the bridge begins to raise.]

It's definitely not a typical public service job.

[Shot of two bridge technicians are seen inside the control station over-looking the bridge raising component.]

[Shot of the Burlington bridge.]

(Shot of a detailed view of the pulley system which helps to lift the bridge.)

[Shot of a bridge technician sitting at a desk looking at two monitors. One of the monitors shows different camera views of the bridge.]

[Shot of several cars stopped on both sides of the bridge as guard rails lower.]

I'm dealing with a team of engineers. We're dealing with the public. What the people in the vehicles don't understand is in your car, you're safe, you're stopped. You're parked, you're safe, the gates are down.

[Shot of a large vessel in the water moving under the raised bridge.]

[Shot of Dave Thomson speaking.]

[Shot of the Hamilton harbour through the bridge.]

[Shot of a Marine communication radio.]

But a ship, if we have an issue, they're not safe. For the fast ships, the bridge must be fully raised by the mile mark to allow them to stop if there's a failure of the bridge or to allow them to turn to open water.

When a ship's coming in off the lake, they give us a call at five miles out, which is about an hour away.

[Shot of Marine binoculars by a window.]

[Shot of a radar showing GPS coordinates.]

[Shot of two monitors showing different camera views of the bridge.)

We then track them on our radar screen here to the left of me, we stop traffic, we clear the pedestrians.

[Shot of a bridge technician looking at three monitors showing different camera views of the bridge.]

[Shot of Dave Thomson speaking.]

[Shot of a hand turning a lever on the bridge control panel.]

We make sure everybody stopped, it's safe to go, and then we initiate the lift.

[Shot of a bridge technician standing in front of the control panel. The bridge outside the window is slowly raising.]

Everything that we do we err on the side of safety. We never want anyone to get hurt.

[Shot of Dave Thomson speaking.]

[Shot of a map showing the Burlington bridge and the surrounding Hamilton Harbour waterway is on screen.]

[Shot of the Hamilton Harbour map is on screen.]

The canal is really important to the region as is the skyway bridge.

[Shot of Dave Thomson speaking.]

[Shot of the bridge raising to its maximum height.]

[Shot of bridge components raising to its maximum height.]

[Shot of Dave Thomson speaking.]

You have all kinds of supplies coming in from the saltwater vessels from all around the world. They take out a lot of the steel for the factories. Pleasure craft, which is a sailboat or a launch or a small work boat, they get lifts on the half hour and on the top of the hour, but large vessels are on demand.

[Shot of a large vessel passing through the bridge and into the Hamilton Harbour.]

[Shot of Dave Thomson speaking.]

[Shot of a Canadian flag waving outside close to the bridge.]

The canal is critical to shipping. Any delays to shipping cost a lot of money. We're providing an integral service.

[Shot of Dave Thomson speaking.]

[Shot of the Burlington bridge closing with barriers down.]

[Shot of a Dave Thomson smiling wearing a white construction hat inside the control station room.]

But what I love about my job is the complexity of it. When people come here, they stay. They don't tend to leave because they love their job.

[Music stops]

(Text on screen: This video was produced in accordance with public health guidelines in place at the time of recording)

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(Public Services and Procurement Canada signature)

(Canada Wordmark)

End of video

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