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Hospital construction project entering new phase

Workforce on $622.6 million project also increasing
A section from one of the two construction cranes at the new Mills Memorial Hospital worksite is carefully lowered to the ground Oct. 2. Removal of a first crane began Sept. 30 and the second crane was dismantled and trucked off site the evening of Oct. 2. (Staff photo)

The workforce at the new Mills Memorial Hospital construction site is increasing as next steps on the $622.6 million project shift to the inside of the structure.

“In the next couple months, workers will continue to install exterior windows, as well as insulation and siding on the outside of the building,” said Sarah Artis, a Northern Health Authority official closely connected to the project.

“Work will focus on completing the outside shell and closing up the hospital for the winter, so mechanical and electrical work inside the building can continue throughout the winter months.”

In the last few months alone, the workforce increased from approximately 130 people to more than 200.

One sign of a new phase in the mammoth project to replace the current Mills Memorial was the removal of two construction cranes that had been raising material to the upper floors and which became a fixture of the city’s landscape for more than a year.

Removal began Sept. 30 and was completed Oct. 2, made possible by a large mobile crane brought to the site which then lifted sections of the two construction cranes one by one, manueuvering them delicately to the ground.

“It took two days to take down the first crane, on the south end of the site. And the second crane came down ahead of schedule, taking only one day to dismantle,” said Artis of each 60-metre tall crane.

“The last piece of the second crane was driven off the site on Sunday evening, (Oct. 2).

“Many community members have said they are sad to see the cranes go, but also know it’s a good thing as it means construction is moving ahead.”

At more than 350,000 square feet, the new Mills will be roughly double the size of the current hospital and contain roughly double the number of beds — 78.

Construction began June 2021 and it will take approximately another two years to finish to the point Northern Health can begin to make preparations for the first patients. That’s expected to happen in early 2025.

Demolition of the old Mills will then occur and be replaced by a parking lot for 300 vehicles.

Still to be decided upon is the schedule for the demolition and replacement of the Seven Sisters mental health facility. The existing 20-bed facility will be in the way of the new Mills. Its replacement will contain 25 beds.

Also still to be figured out is how to fit in facilities for an advanced level of before birth and after birth service that was decided upon after the business plan had been signed off and the contract awarded.

That’s expected to cost an additional $14.5 million.

About the Author: Rod Link

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