The need for more long-term care facilities is growing and in Northern Ontario we’re behind on LTC capacity. COVID has certainly accelerated the need.
“The pandemic really highlighted the need for more long-term care facilities, as well as the need for updating many existing facilities,” says Jeff McKay, Senior Project Manager at PCL Construction. “PCL is delighted to be in a position to be able to leverage our strengths to help address this situation by building quality care facilities in the shortest timeframe possible.
Thankfully, quite a few brand-new facilities are being built and many existing ones are finally being renovated. Two new care homes are currently being built in Sudbury. The City of Greater Sudbury is expanding theirs, as is Timmins. Extendicare is expected to build two more by 2023: one in Sudbury and one in Sault Ste. Marie.
Autumnwood is expanding their facilities in Sudbury and North Bay.
One of the two brand-new facilities in Sudbury is being built by PCL Construction. It’s a 258-bed, state-of-the-art facility, which is expected to help reduce the crunch on long-term care in Northern Ontario. The project was awarded to the company in October 2020; by December they were on site and had begun earthworks and blasting.
The company is one of the largest and most diverse builders in the industry. “PCL is a leader in healthcare facility construction and thus makes the transition into LTC seamless. Given that I myself am a baby boomer this type of construction is very relevant,” says Paul Kamerads, Superintendent.
The Sudbury environment proved challenging. The ground wasn’t as per plan, though PCL helped the client come up with a solution. The challenge was related to the amount of rock that had to be blasted—that part took almost five months of work alone.
The project is also situated in a primarily residential neighbourhood with an elementary school nearby. In order to mitigate any fears and concerns, a number of actions were taken. Pre-blast surveys and notices were given to residents within a 300m radius. Meetings were held with city building officials to establish a line of communication through the city’s website.
A local phone number funneled complaints through to PCL, which were logged and investigated. Blast monitoring with seismographs provided instant feedback on blast vibrations and were communicated to the team via email; all blasts were well within acceptable parameters. Any complaints that were received were followed up in-person and a handout was given out, explaining blasting, vibrations and their effects.
The company partnered with local trades, as well as trades from Ottawa and Toronto. “Due to the complexity and size of the project, it was necessary to reach out beyond the Sudbury borders to ensure there was enough coverage with respect to competitive pricing and to ensure the best value for our client,” says Kamerads.
“It was very seamless working with our out-of-town trades, as one of the side benefits of Covid was the use of teams and other virtual platforms with which to conduct meetings. Even with our local trade partners virtual platforms were used to conduct meetings. Even though we will have out-of-town trades on site, most of the craft workers will be local.”
The concrete foundations are now complete, and they are working on the vertical concrete walls for stairs, elevators and shear walls. The structural steel and load-bearing walls are underway; the mechanical and electrical roughin work is also progressing with the structure, explains McKay. The project is expected to be completed in early 2023.
PCL was also able to deliver LTC facilities and renovations in occupied spaces during the worst parts of the pandemic, thanks to industry-leading safety protocols and responsive phasing. They have done multiple renovations, additions and new builds for LTC facilities throughout the pandemic. The pods built using shipping containers are a prime example of their innovative approach, as each had to safely connect to an existing, occupied facility.
“PCL has a very good Covid management policy which meets or exceeds government guidelines,” explains Kamerads. “This has allowed us to keep working safely without risking outbreaks on any of our sites. The fact that LTC construction is considered critical infrastructure allowed us to keep working. It has been a challenge to manage, however our workforce is fully on board with the program.”
McKay certainly agrees.
“When the pandemic hit in March 2020, PCL took the situation very seriously and took an industry-leading, proactive approach to managing our sites and ensuring that we were able to stay open and continue building. We’ve maintained that rigor throughout the entire pandemic and have been largely successful in keeping our sites operational. A big part of our culture at PCL is to remain dynamic and flexible and be able to to external challenges,” he says.
The company followed a long list of precautions, including using QR codes for phone scanning to complete the Covid questionnaire, hands-free temperature sensors, hand sanitizer in all lunch, office and washroom facilities, limiting the number of workers in lunch rooms to maintain 6 ft separation, additional trailers for lunch rooms, additional cleaning of office and lunch spaces and high-touch areas such as door handles, as well as face coverings in indoor areas and outdoors if working within 6 ft of another worker.
The company is getting ready to start work on another LTC facility, this one with 164 beds in downtown North Bay, and a number of similar projects are on the horizon. Kamerads is hoping to develop long-term relationships with these clients so that they can build any future upcoming projects. “We are very optimistic, as with the government’s new funding policy, the future looks very promising,” he says.
As the need for LTC facilities grows, so will the need for builders who offer a variety of delivery methods to meet the client’s needs. PCL provides services even during Covid and provides turnkey solutions on a wide variety of projects.
The company has had a presence in the Northern Ontario market for many years and is extremely proud to have established a permanent presence with their Sudbury office. They are proud to be partnering with long-term care service providers to assist in building new facilities that increase safety and security for residents.
Learn more about PCL Construction or call 705-995-2225.