VIHA’s Chief Project Officer Tom Sparrow discusses a jobs “tsunami” with Catherine Temple at a hospital project open house.

New hospital to generate jobs ‘tsunami’

The first ripples of a jobs “tsunami” will hit Campbell River’s shores next June

The first ripples of a jobs “tsunami” will hit Campbell River’s shores next June as work begins on site preparation for construction of the new hospital.

That good news comes from Tom Sparrow, Vancouver Island Health Authority’s (VIHA) Chief Project Officer.

Fresh from a similar hospital construction project in Fort St. John, Sparrow says he is already working with local educators and community organizations like the Campbell River Chamber of Commerce to set the stage for the job-generating project.

At a VIHA open house Wednesday at the Campbell River Maritime Heritage Centre, Sparrow said: “The opportunities for all of the local trades people, suppliers, service companies, restaurants and hoteliers is going to be absolutely phenomenal.

“The first thing these construction companies look for is local trades, local service companies and local suppliers. They can’t access trades people in other parts of the country and bring them in because they are busy working too. Everyone’s busy. We want to work closely with the high schools, the college. We want to talk about apprenticeships programs and opportunities with the trades associations.”

Sparrow said these meetings have already begun.

“We want to make sure the community is aware of what the opportunities are,” he said.

When you combine the new hospital and BC Hydro’s John Hart Generating Station rehabilitation there will be more than $1 billion in construction underway, Sparrow said.

The project manager said shovels will hit the ground in 2014, “but we will be doing preliminary work probably in June of 2013.” That work will include demolishing a small piece of the Wellness Centre and all of the Public Health facility on Birch Street adjacent to the parking lot.

Sparrow said the initial site preparation work in June will go out to tender. “We’ll be looking for local companies that can handle the demolition of those buildings.”

During the construction phase starting in early 2014 and extending to the spring of 2017 there will be between 250 and 400 workers on the site for the life of the project.

The demolition of the old hospital will present challenges, Sparrow said. “The demolition will take longer than a regular office building. It’s an older facility so we’ll have to deal with potential issues such as asbestos abatement.”

Sparrow added: “The other thing we are doing is putting in a temporary parking lot on the other side of Yucalta Lodge. We are going to match or have more parking stalls than exist now.

“Some of the physicians are quite concerned about parking and we definitely want to focus on insuring that over the next four to five years we are meeting the needs of the community, the clinical folks, the patients and family members.”