Stability for doctors and patients will be the one of the best things about the new Village Medical Centre, Dr. Tim Bastedo says.
After nearly a decade of trying to find a permanent home for some of Niagara-on-the-Lake's essential medical services, Bastedo is thankful construction on the new centre will start soon, he said.
“The biggest thing is gonna be stability. We know we’re going to be here for a long stretch of time,” Bastedo said in an interview at the new site.
The finalization of the site plan enables physicians to focus all of their energy on patient care instead of worrying about where they will be practising in the future, he said.
Bastedo moved to town nine years ago and said he has been envisioning a large medical hub ever since.
“Just trying to find a location large enough for everyone was a struggle,” he said.
The new 8,000-square-foot, one-storey building behind the CIBC on Garrison Village Drive will enable that medical hub to happen.
Bastedo will be moving into the new centre with four other doctors, the entire Niagara North Family Health Team and the LifeLabs located in the former NOTL hospital.
Physicians Iram Ahmed, Karen Berti, Samreen Malik and Pratik Kalani will be relocating to the new facility.
Several doctors will continue practising at the Virgil medical centre behind Simpson’s pharmacy, but Bastedo didn’t want to specify who since contracts are still being negotiated.
This grouping of medical services will be a bonus for doctors and patients, he said.
“It’s nice to know that we’re not going to be split apart into multiple different parties,” he said.
Bastedo will be moving in to the old hospital with the family health team until the new building is completed.
It was originally hoped the centre would be built by April, but the new timeline is to have the construction completed by June 2022, said John Hawley, president of Traditional Neighbourhood Developments Inc.
Lord Mayor Betty Disero said the town is committed to working with the teams located in the old hospital to ensure they can continue their medical practices in the building until construction on the new centre is completed.
One particularly excited individual was the lord mayor’s mother, Lena Disero.
She lives in Old Town and said the new location is a great convenience.
“I like Dr. Bastedo and it’s closer to my home,” Lena Disero said in an interview.
She was also happy there will be three female doctors working out of the new centre.
Lena had hoped the construction would be done in April so she could start walking to her medical appointments in the spring, but “it’s a very big project,” she said.
Hawley said the new location is great since it brings a multi-functional medical centre to one of the highest density areas in the municipality.
Construction manager Fraser Muir of Alliance Construction Management said the project would cost roughly $250 per square foot. At an estimated 8,000 square feet, that equates to roughly $2,000,000 for the project.
“It is far more than we thought, because of the pandemic,” Hawley noted.
The cost of building materials has risen during the pandemic, with Muir noting steel in particular was burning a hole in the budget.
He also said that construction labour is more scarce, meaning developers have a less competitive market to try and find lower costs for building projects.
Hawley thanked the town for help getting the project moving. The town issued a conditional building permit for the development so the team could get started earlier. The developer bears any risk associated with the construction, Hawley said.
The town also deferred the development charges until the building is fit for occupancy, allowing the developer to focus its resources on the construction, he said.
Evan Saunders, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report