Patient at Groundbreaking Celebration and the West Park campus under construction in April 2019
Oct. 11, 2019 - Exactly one year ago, feelings of excitement and anticipation filled the morning air at West Park as 200 staff, patients, family members and volunteers eagerly marched to the rhythmic beat of a drumline troupe that opened the Groundbreaking Celebration.
Since the momentous occasion, construction activity has dominated the scenic views of the campus with the promise of more to come. It’s a reality patients, family members and staff have had to face.
“Construction always takes some getting used to,” says Shelley Ditty, Vice-President of Campus Development and Support Services. “Everyone certainly got a taste of what’s to come in the months ahead. With all the disruption, we just need to remind ourselves that in four years, we will have a new and exceptional healthcare facility that will significantly enhance patient care for generations.”
Recapping the year
Known in the industry as “enabling works,” developer EllisDon has spent the past year preparing for the excavation of the grounds for the new hospital, also known as the “Big Dig.” Since many underground services such as water, fire and sanitary lines were running beneath the footprint of the new facility, construction crews have spent the year re-routing the underground service pipes, so that West Park’s four existing buildings can remain operational during construction.
The other major undertaking is the new main entrance. The Main Building’s current entrance will eventually close because of its proximity to the construction zone. As a result, EllisDon is reconfiguring the former Piano Lounge area into the new entrance and the former Recreation Therapy Patio into the new driveway and drop-off area, which is expected to open in late fall.
West Park's new main entrance under construction
Other early construction activities include the demolition of the maintenance building. The space has been converted to additional staff parking in order to offset losses in the future. A new temporary maintenance shed has been created to accommodate equipment from the Quonset hut, which will eventually be demolished.
With all the construction happening across the site, it’s no surprise it brought some high and low points during the past year.
- Underground tunnel. More creepy than historically valuable, EllisDon uncovered a buried forgotten tunnel from the hospital’s earliest days. Built in 1907, the tunnel connected the old Administration (Hammond) Building to the King Edward (Mulholland) Building.
- Vintage glass bottles. A dozen glass bottles in varying shapes, sizes and colour were unearthed in an old septic tank from the early 1900s.
- Legoman. As the mascot for construction at West Park, Legoman garnered a loyal following when the Construction Cam was launched. Staff and patients tuned into the live feed to see what Legoman was doing at set times. The very talented Legoman was discovered engaging in various activities like playing basketball, dancing in the rain, leading a tai-chi class, and getting arrested by security.