Winds of Change: Preparing for Construction
Jan. 23, 2019 - West Park’s current beloved landscape is about to be altered forever. At the beginning of the year, a giant, green excavator conducting soil testing seemed out-of-place amongst the hospital’s blissful and sleepy backdrop.
But numerous heavy-duty vehicles and machinery will be the norm within a year’s time.
“The planning process for any new hospital in Ontario is lengthy, about 10 years plus, and so everyone thinks it will never happen,” says Shelley Ditty, Vice-President of Campus Development. “But change is coming. And it’s going to come fast and furious.”
At the height of construction, West Park will have four cranes, chain link fences called “hoarding” around the perimeter of the construction site, and potentially up to 500 construction workers and tradespeople on the campus.
With all the disruption construction brings, staff, patients and the community must keep its eye on the prize — a new, modern hospital that will significantly enhance how West Park helps patients get their life back. After the new hospital is open in 2023, it will take another year to demolish all the current buildings onsite, with the exception of the Long-Term Care Centre, and to establish an even better greenscape than West Park has always been known for.
“Everyone will have to be as flexible as they can,” says Ditty. “We’re going to do our best to communicate changes and periods of transition. But with any construction project, things don’t always go as planned, and so we have to adapt.”
Change over the century
Since 1904, West Park has stood the test of time, withstanding changes to its name, services and landscape to reflect trends in health care and society. The winds of change have come again, and 2019 will be the year West Park begins the greatest physical transformation in its history.
Originally named the Toronto Free Hospital for Consumptive Poor in 1904, the healthcare centre has also been known as The Weston Sanatorium, Weston Hospital, the Toronto Hospital and West Park Hospital. The name changes reflect the evolution of its services from tuberculosis only care to other respiratory illnesses, rehabilitation and complex care.
Responding to changes in its services, West Park’s campus has undergone its share of construction and demolition activities over the past 115 years. This includes the:
- Kathleen Honorah Prittie Building (also known as the Main Medical Building) built in 1912 and demolished in 1997;
- Queen Mary Hospital built in 1913 and demolished in 1974; and
- A.E. Ames Building built in 1933 and demolished around the 1980's
To adapt to a new era in health care, West Park is evolving again.
Demand for West Park’s services has significantly increased due to an aging population, outstripping its ability to keep up with patient demand and modern standards in its current facilities. West Park is boldly transforming its 27-acre property into an integrated campus of care, offering patients access to a continuum of healthcare services in one location.
At the heart of the transformation is West Park’s new, six-storey, approximately 730,000 square foot hospital, which broke ground with a massive celebration in October. EllisDon Healthcare Infrastructure, a consortium consisting of developer EllisDon Design Build Inc. and architectural firm CannonDesign Ltd. and Montgomery Sisam Architects, has been awarded the contract to build the new hospital.
There are grand plans to restore the “park” within West Park. The new hospital will extend beyond the walls, connecting indoor and outdoor therapeutic environments that enable staff to seamlessly deliver exemplary care. For every tree taken down, three must take its place that will offer comfort and therapeutic benefits for all.
In preparation for construction, West Park held a Tree and Land Blessing Ceremony to honour the trees and land last September. The ceremony was presided by First Nations Elder Shannon Thunderbird who led a welcome prayer, smudging ritual and the powerful, rhythmic beating of traditional aboriginal drums that signify the heartbeat of mother earth.
The Campus Development team will be hosting Construction Phasing Information Sessions in February. Patients, family members, employees, physicians and volunteers can learn what the campus will look like during construction over the next few years.
Answers to questions about staff parking, building access and other construction related concerns will be addressed at the information sessions.
Check back on the website for more information.
For questions or comments, please contact the Campus Development department at 416-243-3600 ext. 2111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.