rocky the rock ripper

Googly-eyed excavator keeps Toronto informed on the city's new island development

Rocky the Rock Ripper tears through bedrock like it's nothing but he also keeps people posted on the progress at Toronto's new island project.

The project, Port Lands Flood Protection, at the new Villiers Island is a $1.25 billion endeavour that includes fully redeveloping the portion of the waterfront just south of where the Gardiner meets the DVP.

The former industrial area will be a waterfront community with housing, roadways and parks.

Along the way, keeping people updated on the project is a piece of construction equipment named Rocky the Rock Ripper who cheerfully tweets information to his more than 1,000 followers. Rocky provides "Rocky Radar", which shows how much excavation has been completed.

Rocky has his own Twitter account, which describes him as a nature-lover, rock-collector, vegetarian who has "never skipped a leg day."

The idea behind the Twitter account is to give people as much visibility about the project as they could, says Mira Shenker, senior communications manager with Waterfront Toronto.

There are many different pieces of construction equipment being used for the project but Rocky stands out, she says.

"It's a very specially designed piece of equipment because what we needed was something that could dig into bedrock," Shenker tells blogTO. "So it had to have the teeth on the end."

Those teeth make the rock ripper bucket look a bit like a face.

"And so that was when we thought to start his account because he was just so unique looking," Shenker says. "It was one of the guys on site just sent us a photo of it of the bucket. And we saw immediately that it needed googly eyes."

So Rocky's Twitter pic features the equipment with two googly eyes. Shenker and a few of her colleagues write the tweets. They wanted a separate account from Waterfront Toronto because there is so much happening with the project.

Rocky was used to dig more than 1,000 metres of slurry walls along the edges of the future river valley.

Basically, the big channels that he dug out were filled with a slurry and other materials that hardened and helped create stability in the ground and the water table while they excavate the new river valley.

But that part of the project is now done. Rocky was promoted to site supervisor and continues tweet about the project in that capacity.

The work that Rocky completed was the first step to excavating the river valley. The river is part of the design for flood protection, which is achieved when the project is complete in 2024. 

Shenker says she is not surprised Rocky has gained so many followers. The project is huge for Toronto and this is a great way to follow along as it progresses.

"He makes it fun."

Lead photo by

Waterfront Toronto


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