‘Puts a good light on the project’: ER construction using some local labour

The massive Flin Flon General Hospital ER upgrade promises to be a win for both patients and the local economy.

Sean Fehr of Fresh Projects Builders, the Winnipeg-based firm building the ER, told a recent open house that the project has and will continue to utilize some local labour.

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“I had anticipated possibly bringing a lot of trades in from out of town, but with Fresh Projects…we do a lot of work in house, and that gives us the flexibility to use local people if they’re available,” he told the June 14 gathering, held at Flin Flon City Hall. “And there’s a lot of really good skilled people locally available.”

Fehr said at that time his company had 10 local hires at the project site and would at least double that number in the near future. 

He said he is also aware of a subcontractor that plans on hiring “a lot of local guys.”

The news pleased Mayor Cal Huntley.

“That’s really good to hear,” said the mayor, who attended the open house. “When you’re doing a project of this size in the community, the more you can take advantage of the local talent, it spreads the wealth, so to speak, and it really puts a good light on the project as well, locally.”

Fehr updated the open house on the ER construction, saying crews who planned on blasting a section of rock in the front parking lot could not locate the bedrock until they dug down four metres.

This meant the foundation plan had to be changed to include some four-metre-long piers to support the building, but Fehr said this would not impact the appearance or operations of the facility.

The change will impact the construction schedule, he said, but because of built-in leeway, the goal remains to open the ER in December 2017.

For this year, Fehr said the goal is to have the roof on the ER before the snow flies. This will allow interior work to continue throughout the winter.

Construction will include an underground water reservoir to serve the hospital as well as the sprinklers set to be installed in the adjoining Personal Care Home. Fehr said the current system cannot adequately supply water for a sprinkler system.

Speaking at the open house, Northern Health Region CEO Helga Bryant addressed false rumours that the election of the PC government in April would impact the ER project.

“We can absolutely say that it continues to go full-steam ahead [with] no hiccups because of the election,” she said.

The construction has tied up much of the front parking lot at the hospital, requiring patients to enter the building through a back door.

Bryant said the NHR has been tracking and responding to complaints related to this temporary change. She asked for patience and tolerance while noting that steps to improve patient convenience were being planned and explored.

Meanwhile, Brent Lethbridge, chairman of the Northern Health Foundation fundraising group, said the community has raised 68 per cent of its $2.4-million contribution for the ER. That leaves $776,800 to go prior to construction.

Lethbridge presented the NHR with the latest $200,000 cheque for the project. Provincial legislation mandates the community fundraising component.

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