Avalon Healthcare Partnership chosen for $330M Waterford replacement

·2 min read
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

A group of 13 companies is slated to build the new mental health hospital in St. John's, replacing the Waterford — built in 1855.

Avalon Healthcare Partnership was announced Tuesday as the successful bidder for the contract, which is worth $330 million. The partnership is a makeup of large construction, engineering and architecture firms, including Plenary Americas, Marco Group and G.J. Cahill.

The announcement is one of the last for Premier Dwight Ball, as a new Liberal leader will be voted in by Aug. 3.

Ball said it was vital for him to have a replacement for the Waterford Hospital by the time he wrapped up.

"I can tell you even today, when I drive by that facility, it's tough to think the best we can do is keep that facility from 1855," Ball said.

While he said he didn't want to speak about previous governments, Ball said many said they wanted to replace the hospital, but he hopes his legacy will be as the one leader who did it.

Site work is already happening around the grounds of the Health Sciences Centre, where the new hospital will go. Critics have panned the decision to build there, since the site lies in the middle of a flood plain. Government officials said Tuesday their engineers have said it is feasible to go ahead on the site that's been chosen.

The work will include the demolition of the Agnes Cowan Hostel, and construction of a new 60-bed hostel and a 1,000-car parking garage.

Hospital construction is expected to start by next spring, with a goal to open the building by 2024.

It's expected to create about 400 construction jobs, with a max of 200 working at a time. Ball said the provincial government is committed to having Newfoundlanders and Labradorians fill those positions.

Christopher Hickman, head of Marco Group, said a job fair will be launched soon to gather workers for the project.

Hickman said it's an honour as a person who is from St. John's and lives in the city to be tasked with building a new mental health hospital to replace the Waterford.

Garrett Barry/CBC
Garrett Barry/CBC

Paula Corcoran, a mental health advocate with the Consumers' Health Awareness Network of NL, thanked the premier Tuesday for forging ahead when the province was in a tough fiscal situation.

She expressed faith in the project, saying issues like flood plains and parking spaces can be worked out by professionals, but the need for a new mental health facility is something that has to go forward.

Corcoran read out comments CHANNAL has heard from people about going to the Waterford Hospital, including one person who said they would rather die than go there for help.

"Those things will not be said about this facility," she said.

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