Contractor set, groundbreaking next for WLMH

By Mike Williscraft

NewsNow

EllisDon Infrastructure Healthcare (EDIH) has been selected as contractor of choice to rebuild  West Lincoln Memorial Hospital.

Infrastructure Ontario (IO) and Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS)made the announcement Monday, selecting EDIH after extensive evaluations as part of a process which began in June 2021.

Mary Volk, who has been part of WLMH’s board-level management team preceding the amalgamation of HHS and WLMH said the community is seeing the results of 25 years of resilience.

“So many people have worked so hard for so many years to get our new hospital. It is truly gratifying to see all those efforts finally paying off.  We look forward to seeing shovels in the ground very soon with this proven contractor. My sincere thanks to everyone involved,” said Volk, who served a three-year term on the final WLMH board and is in her ninth and final year on the HHS board.

IO and HHS will now work to finalize contract details with EDIH.

The project is expected to reach financial close soon, which will mean that relevant contracts have been signed and a financing rate has been set.

The contract cost will be announced publicly following the financial close with construction scheduled to begin shortly thereafter. It is hoped a groundbreaking could come in mid- to late-April.

While, for many, getting to this point has literally taken decades, in the end, it has come together with remarkable speed.

“It was Nov. 28, 2018 when Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Health Christine Elliott, along with Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff committed to build a new WLMH,” noted Tony Joosse, co-chair of the WLMH Action Committee.

“While that was the start of our long journey, three-and-a-half years is extremely quick based on other new hospital builds. The process often takes 6-7 years to get to the point where we are now where shovels are getting ready to go into the ground.

That is a sight virtually everyone in the community is waiting to see.

Joosse said he is hoping to see that happen in mid- to late-April.

As far as the build and the contractor go, Kelly Campbell, HHS’s vice-president, corporate services and capital development, says the community is in good hands.

“EllisDon is a market leader in the delivery of important health-care infrastructure projects across Ontario, with a long history of innovation and collaboration working with public partners,” said Campbell.

“We are excited for their vision to bring this project to life. As we move forward with our preferred design-build partner, we acknowledge and are grateful for the time and energy that all teams put into their proposals to build the future WLMH.”

The bid itself came in higher than the originally budgeted $200 million, something which was not unexpected given escalating costs of raw materials due to COVID and supply chain issues.

While the exact projected cost has not been made public, Infrastructure Ontario has adjusted its public notification from a “less than $200 million” project to a “less than $500 million project”.

Oosterhoff said, after years of waiting and false starts, he is pleased to see it reach this point.

“After many years of waiting for previous governments to take steps in the right direction, and with the cancellation of the previously planned project by the Liberals in their 2012 budget, to get from the government’s commitment in 2018 to seeing the builders of our new hospital selected today is lightning speed in terms of building major infrastructure projects such as this,” said Oosterhoff.

“This rapid progress could not have happened without many many community leaders and regular citizens advocating for and emphasizing the need for this crucial healthcare project. I am thankful to serve a community that has poured its heart and soul into this new build, and proud to work with a government and Premier Ford, who see the need for new hospitals in communities like ours across Ontario.”

Andrew Smith, who chairs the Take It To The Finish fundraising campaign, echoed those sentiments.

“We are thrilled with this great news. We wish to thank all those who have participated in bringing us closer to the reality of a new hospital; our donors who have been continuously generous, the leadership of our Foundation board and its staff, campaign members, HHS, Save & Rebuild team, local municipalities and Region,” said Smith.

“We have always believed in our community and have full confidence that together we could and can accomplish the local share goal of $50 million. We are so very close.”

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