Edmonton

Camsell Hospital construction to start in spring, says developer

Frustrated residents near the old Charles Camsell Hospital have been waiting for development for a decade, and although it doesn’t appear that much has changed, the developer says significant progress has been made.

The asbestos in the old building has finally been removed

Architect Gene Dub blames the project delays on disputes with investors and unexpected construction challenges. (CBC)

Frustrated residents near the old Charles Camsell Hospital have been waiting for development for more than a decade.

And although it doesn’t appear that much has changed on the outside, the developer says significant progress has been made.

The hospital in the Inglewood neighbourhood closed in 1996. It was purchased by architect Gene Dub and several other partners in 2004.

Residents were hoping for new development within a few years. But Dubb says it took the city five years to rezone the site. 

He also blames delays on investor disputes due to difficulties with asbestos removal and demolition, which saw costs quadruple. Three contractors abandoned the project. 
After three contractors abandoned the project because of the difficulty of the work, a fourth finally finished the job and removed all of the asbestos in the building. (CBC)

CBC News received a recent tour inside of the derelict building. The asbestos removal was completed by last week and more than 700 rooms have been demolished, leaving each floor cleared for construction.

 "Taking out all these walls that had contaminated materials on them, cleaning up all the beams that had asbestos on them was all very laborious, slow work and it has taken longer than anticipated," Dub said.

Dub says he understands the frustrations of the Inglewood neighbourhood.

“I sympathize with the community,” he said. “I don’t feel good about what we’ve done in this community. But we’re going to try and make up for it now.”
A rendering of what the developer says the project will look like once it is completed. (Supplied/Dub Architects)

Dub says construction will begin on the 230 residential units — the first phase of the project — in the spring.

Many residents have questioned why the City of Edmonton did not step in earlier to make sure construction at the Camsell was going forward sooner.

“It looks like quite an eyesore and it’s been like that it just seems forever,” said Jackie Malterer, whose home faces the building.

Chrystal Coleman, a spokesperson for the community services department, said the city is limited to addressing nuisance property complaints as they arise.

“Since 2006, we have taken enforcement action against the property owner for several violations, including five.... orders for graffiti and nuisance property conditions, remedial work on weeds and long grass and several tickets for graffiti vandalism,” Coleman said in an emailed statement.