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Hospital executives await bids.

North Bay hospital executives are anxiously awaiting the return of construction bids this month for what will be the largest single construction project in the Nipissing district's history.


The North Bay Regional Health Centre is in the final stages of tendering on the longawaited construction-maintenance project that will serve a good portion of northeastern Ontario residents.

Hospital spokesperson Pat Stephens couldn't pick a date when shovels might be in the ground until the bid packages arrive in mid-September from three pre-selected private consortia and their bids can be evaluated before final provincial approvals are given.

Due to the complexity of the 30-year construction and maintenance contract under new provincial guidelines, bidders were given a month-long extension to submit tenders.

Earlier this year, North Bay Mayor Vic Fedeli was assured by Nipissing MPP Monique Smith that the groundbreaking for the health centre would take place this year.

"It might be December, but we should be in the ground," says Stephens.

Long term, no date has been established for a ribbon cutting either but "We know it's a 30 to 36-month project and will take us six months to commission the building."

Five consortia answered the hospital's Request for Qualifications in September 2005 with three being shortlisted and invited to submit a bid in June during the Request for Proposals stage.

Among the bidders are Health Infrastructure Partners, a project grouping that includes construction heavyweights Ellis Don Corporation, Carillion Canada Inc. and CIT Financial.

Also coming forward were Plentary Health featuring the Plenary Group, Deutsche Bank AG and PCL Constructors Canada along with SNC Lavalin which includes their engineering, construction, investment and operations management groups.

The hospital will be paid for under the province's new Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) model that brings in private consortia to ensure big-ticket mega projects are completed on time and on budget. Sault Ste. Marie's new hospital is being built under the same formula.

Previously, the project was thought to cost in the $200 million to $250 million price range. But Stephens says it's not known what the health centre price tag will be until the bids arrive. "It includes not just construction costs but maintenance of the facility over a 30 year period.

"It's really very different from the way we were doing it at the beginning," which involved a drastic change in the project's planning when the AFP process was suddenly introduced by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal last year.

"It's been a real roller coaster," says Stephens. "That's what makes our project different from other AFP's because we already had our designs done when the province decided to go this route. The construction companies will have to deal with something they didn't design. I think in the future, we'll see (companies) do the design, build and maintenance altogether."

Roger Marleau, chairman of the joint executive committee, responsible for the hospital project understands the community's frustration over delays in construction. But he says the AFP's building and financing rules are trailblazing and painstaking processes.

"What we're doing in setting these project agreements is we're setting the bar for all other projects to come," says Marleau. "Everybody is anxious to get things going and I don't blame them, we've been waiting a long time for this hospital to happen."

"Our main theme has always been let's do the planning right, instead of paying for it down the road. We want to make sure we've covered all the angles. The delay we're looking at now will make every other project that much better and quicker."

The 720,000-square-foot complex will combine two groups, the 275-bed North Bay General Hospital and the 113-bed Northeast Mental Health Centre. They will be situated side by side on one campus at a prepared green-field site alongside Highway 17.

A PriceWaterhouseCoopers economic impact study in 2000 concluded the hospital project would deliver post-construction benefits of $17.9 million to $23.9 million to the North Bay area, and about 1,500 people would be employed full-time.

The design firm, Critchley Delean Trussier Evans Bertrand Architects, have created a village concept using the natural escarpment of the 80-acre property with lodges and large curving streets. The hospital will also feature leading-edge medical procedures including minimal access surgery, also known as laparoscopic surgery, and will be a national site for telerobotic surgery.

Links with the Northern Ontario School of Medicine were initiated this past spring and the hospital will be further collaborating with their neighbours, Nipissing University and Canadore College, by pulling graduates from their nursing and respiratory therapy programs.

An auditorium and classrooms were designed for the facility to accommodate medical students and technicians.

Stephens says all the site preparation has been done to receive contractors. Municipal water and sewer infrastructure have not yet been extended in the property but Stephens says they won't be needed during the first year of construction. The city has to do some access development along Gormanville Road that will bring piping into the site.


Northern Ontario Business

Company # of Empl.

Telespectrum Inc. 650
Teletech Canada 569
PGI Fabrene Inc. 322
ProNorth Transportation 280
Brinkman & Associates Reforestation Ltd. 250
Wal-Mart Canada 234
Donald F. Miller Food Services 200
Tembec Forest Products Inc. 197
A & P Food Stores Ltd. 197
Boart Longyear Inc. 188

Source: City of North Bay as of July 2006
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Author:Ross, Ian
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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