February 2017 – Article: Union Demolition Contractor Scores Huge International Honours


Management and staff of Priestly Demolition (PDI) in King, Ontario – just north of Toronto – are still smiling after winning two prestigious awards at the 2016 World Demolition Awards in Miami, Florida.  After submitting seven applications in 11 award categories, Priestly was shortlisted for six awards and then on Awards Night, was presented with the Civils Demolition Award for their innovative Nipigon Bridge Project and the Award of the night – the World Demolition Award.

PDI President Ryan Priestly says not bad for a first time entrant.

“Going down, we didn’t know what to expect.  We were competing against the whole world in demolition projects including Japan, the U.S., Australia, Italy and England to name a few”.

In choosing Priestly for the top award, the judges were quoted as saying “outstanding innovation – Priestly deserves this years’ best of the best”.

The “innovation” refers to the demolition and removal of the original Nipigon Bridge – an outdated two-lane bridge that spans 827 feet above the Nipigon River at the top of Lake Superior.  Project Manager Brian Druery says the job was not without many challenges.

“We had to work 100-feet over the water. It was the dead of winter, and we were on a tight timeline.  There were both environmental concerns and constraints – everyone was watching us including the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Ministry of Natural Resources”.

Druery says several options were explored including the use of a barge beneath the bridge.  However, it wasn’t very cost effective.  The team then considered using a crane, but it was dismissed because of the limited access to the site.  Finally, it was agreed that jacking up the span with rollers placed beneath the span was the best option.  This allowed the bridge to be rolled off onto the bank of the river and dismantled. Watch the video here.

Priestly believes there were several reasons that factored in the selection of PDI as award winners.

“I think in the end, what won the judges over was our innovative methods from moving and demolishing the bridge to the safety procedures we put in place and the fact that we were able to complete such a complex job on time”.

Originally, the demolition of the bridge was scheduled for the fall, but got pushed into the winter because of other project schedules. Druery says that tightened up the timelines for completion of the demolition, forcing workers to operate in some extreme temperatures – some as low as -25C.

Druery says every job has its own unique challenges.

“We perform a “job safety analysis” prior to each job as well as on site as each job continues.  Whether it’s demolishing a bridge, removing asbestos, working in a mine or taking down a commercial building, each job has an impact, be it people, the environment, whatever.  It’s about safety and always being prepared so you can hit the grounding running”.

These days, PDI is removing the Speed River Bridges on the 401 west of Cambridge, Ontario. He admits the job is a little more routine but just as rewarding and he wholly agrees with Priestly who says winning awards such as the World Demolition Award is simply “amazing”.

“It takes teamwork to win such a prestigious award and that is the one thing that makes this company great”.







Fred Lehmann
Communications Coordinator,

Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS)
180 Attwell Drive, Suite 360, Toronto, ON M9W 6A9
P 416.620.5210 ext. 222
F 416.620.5310