The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance invited the community to an open house at the Wallaceburg site Nov. 29.
Hospital officials provided tours and discussed the replacement power plant project, which is the first phase of the redevelopment of the Sydenham Campus.
Lori Marshall, president and CEO, said her team was happy to hear directly from the public.
“I think it is terrific that we’ve got such a great turnout,” Marshall said.
Hospital officials estimated upwards of 60 people attended.
“We were hoping that folks would come out. We know that there has been a lot of interest, clearly, in this site over the course of the last couple of years. We really wanted to make sure that everybody was aware of where we’re at in the process with respect to the plans for the future, in particular the new power plant – where it is going and to make sure people know what the plans are for the future,” Marshall said.
The CKHA team sees the first power plant development as “the anchor” for the next stages, she added.
“It’s really important that we moved ahead with that,” she said. “We did just have municipal approval for the site plans, so that was a key milestone. Now we’re back to the ministry again with our next submission, we’re at stage 3.2 in the capital process.”
Marshall said the CKHA anticipates no issues moving ahead.
“We did receive the funding allocation for the project to move ahead,” she said, referring to the $7.3 million from the province.
“We’re looking forward to hopefully tendering in the spring and doing the work thereafter.”
Marshall said Thursday’s event was an opportunity for people to come in and have a look at the facility.
“I think a picture is worth a thousand words. Understanding what is here now and where we’re going in the future, I think it is important.”
Marshall said it is critical to have direct feedback from the public.
“We’ve worked hard to repair the relationship with the community of Wallaceburg,” Marshall said. “I feel tonight that I’m surrounded by friends. That is a really nice feeling. This is a good chance for us to get the feedback, people have the chance to leave some comments for us because the Ministry also asks for this kind of feedback and engagement. This is also an opportunity for us to get some of that and to be able to use it in the process too.”
Among those in attendance from the public was former Wallaceburg Coun. Jeff Wesley, who is a long-time advocate for the Wallaceburg hospital and a former board chair for the hospital as well.
“Thanks to Lori Marshall, the leadership team and the new board they have in place for moving forward with this,” Wesley said at a Nov. 19 council meeting, the final one of his political career. “They gave us their word that they were going to do so and they have. It means a lot to myself and the entire community of Wallaceburg and North Kent. Thank you.”
CKHA officials said the first phase of construction for a new power plant will replace aging equipment with new boilers, generators and electrical distribution equipment.
The expansion is part of the province’s plan to update hospital infrastructure in Chatham-Kent and follows the Ministry’s 2017 approval for $1.5 million under the Hospital Energy Efficiency Program (HEEP) to replace old heating and cooling distribution equipment at the Wallaceburg site.
The balance of the project cost will be funded through hospital funds allocated for investment in this project.
Construction completion should occur in 2019 with minimal disruption to patient services, hospital officials said.