As many as 350 outside workers will be needed to build the new Mills Memorial Hospital, indicate City of Terrace documents relating to a site on which a camp to house them could be built.
The location is on the corner of Hwy37 South and Jack Talstra Way at the entrance to the Skeena Industrial Development Park just south of the Northwest Regional Airport.
City council was asked to give its approval by granting a three-year temporary use permit for the camp to house workers employed by multi-national PCL Construction, the preferred contractor to build a new hospital and accompanying mental health facility in a combined project worth $447.5 million.
But council at its Feb. 23 meeting decided to defer the request for now upon the advice of senior staffers.
The land is owned by Global Dewatering Ltd., a company which specializes in dredging and groundwork operations. It bought the property in 2013 just as the first wave of speculation tied to potential developments in liquefied natural gas swept through the region.
The industrial park is “considered an appropriate location for such facilities because of the location near the airport and distance from residential and commercial developed areas in the city,” noted city development services director David Block in a memo to council of the needed work camp.
A work camp at the Global Dewatering site would require a well to be drilled and an on-site septic system. One alternative to the latter would be hauling waste out, something that would require a permit from the Northern Health Authority.
At an anticipated size of 350 beds, the city could not charge a fee per bed. A bylaw permitting that only comes into play if a work camp contains more than 1,000 beds.
Those city documents also indicate PCL is entertaining proposals to provide the work camp facilities for as many as 350 people.
One of those proposals could come from the Kitselas First Nations’s Kitselas Development Corporation, which owns the property directly across the road from Global Dewatering.
The development corporation supports the temporary use permit and “may submit a proposal to establish this workforce housing on their property,” Block said, relating a conversation with a director of the development corporation.
This would not be the first time the Kitselas Development Corporation has entertained the prospect of a work camp at its property in the development park.
During intensive planning for a second major liquefied natural gas project in the last decade at Kitimat called Kitimat LNG, the location was favoured to be a work camp for workers on that project.
As PCL searches for a work camp location, it is also working on what is expected to be a final design to be submitted to the provincial government leading to a construction contract. The province has already committed to construction and a final contract could result in work starting this spring.
The company was the only one to indicate an interest in building a new Mills on the site of the current one and while not yet being officially acknowledged as the preferred contractor by the Northern Health Authority, it has signed a contract to cover preliminary expenses.
PCL’s contemplated building footprint appeared before council Feb. 22 as it needed permission to build a taller structure than allowed at the location.
The current Mills will be demolished as will the current Seven Sisters mental health accommodation facility and the Sleeping Beauty office building to make room for the new Mills which will go up on the north end of the property close to the Sande Overpass. A new Seven Sisters will be built and the old Mills site will become a parking lot.
Council approved the new height for what will be the tallest of a three-level step configuration in the architectural design.
“The request for additional height is accompanied with architectural and design features which helps to reduce the mass and and scale of the building,” Block stated in a memo to council.
Placing the new Mills on the north end of the property near the Sande Overpass will “minimize the impacts on the adjacent residential uses to the east and west,” Block added.
(An earlier version of this story had council agreeing to the temporary use permit. That was incorrect. Minutes of the Feb. 23 meeting indicate councillors agreed to defer “due to the receipt of advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege …”)