WLMH rebuild: rapid fire Q&A with Bart DeVries

Earlier this month (February 2021), the Ministry of Health approved the Stage 2 plan for the new hospital. We thought now is a good time to catch up with Bart DeVries, redevelopment director at HHS leading the WLMH rebuild planning, for a rapid fire Q&A session about the status of the rebuild.

So, the Stage 2 plan was approved. Does work on Stage 3 start now?

Actually, stages 2 and 3 were overlapped so work on the Stage 3 components has been happening for a while now. Due to the fast-tracking of this project, the work on Stage 3 was not held up waiting for Stage 2 approval.

What happens in Stage 3?

Stage 3 develops the specifications around the look, feel and character of the proposed building and site, including landscape, interior and exterior finishes, as well as technical requirements, like approved building materials and methods of construction. Furniture and equipment needs – which is a major component of the local share and building infrastructure requirements – are also finalized at this stage. This work was started in Stage 2, but approval provides further clarity to finalize the details.

How is that different from Stage 2?

Stage 2 focused on the flow and function of the building and where the proposed building might sit on the preliminary site plan. The Ministry’s approval essentially says “we agree with the plan, keep going.” That certainty allows the team to finalize all the details following the Ministry’s approval and determine requirements of the rooms, the equipment needed, the furnishings, as well as site planning and design.

What are the Stage 3 deliverables to the Ministry?

Stage 3 submission will include program requirements like which rooms need to be located where, mechanical/electrical requirements, updated furniture and equipment details, illustrative floor plans, and an updated cost estimate. It will also include the overall project requirements, which will be very similar to the information that will be included in the Request for Proposals (RFP) documents. The RFP will be issued in July.

When will the Stage 3 plan be submitted to the Ministry?

By the end of March.

By the end of Stage 3, will we know what the building will look like?

The Stage 3 plan will include a vision of what the building could look like. However, the successful design-build construction team will tell us what they can build within both the confines and ranges of the program specifications and cost parameters assigned by the Ministry of Health and Infrastructure Ontario (IO), respectively.

By the end of Stage 3, will we know the exact services that will be in the building?

Yes. The list of services was provided by the Ministry with its approval of the Stage 1 plan, at the end of 2019. That list hasn’t changed.

Last year, it was shared that the new building would be bigger than the current hospital. Does the team now have the approval needed from the Town of Grimsby to increase the size?

Yes. The application for a minor variance to allow increased height to a portion of the site where the building could be located, was approved by the Town in January.

So, does this mean approval was granted to start building?

No, approval was granted to build a taller/larger building, not to start construction yet. An overall “site plan” has been submitted to the Town for preliminary approval. This includes all planned components for the site, like where the building could sit, parking layout, and greenspace. Closer to construction, an application for a building permit will be submitted and an updated site plan will be issued to the Town for final approval.

What is the status of procurement for the design-build team?

The Request for Qualifications (RFQ) closed at the end of January. The submissions from qualified teams are being reviewed together with IO. From those submissions, a short list will be created and those teams will be invited to compete during the RFP process. We will know who the prequalified design/construction teams are by mid-April. The RFP will be posted in July and will close in December.

When will we know how much the building will cost?

IO has set cost parametres for the project. It’s a competitive process between potential bidders and they will include costing in their bids. So, the exact numbers from the winning design-build team won’t be known until spring 2022 at the earliest.

Overall timeline for the project?

Planning is targeting shovels in the ground around May or June 2022. So, about 15 months from now, give or take.