Groundwater forces design changes to Whistle Bend care facility

PCL Construction has the contract to design and build the $109 million Whistle Bend care facility. But it has abandoned plans for a two-storey underground parkade, scaling back to one underground level, citing potential groundwater problems.

PCL Construction ditches two-storey underground parkade

Construction on the continuing care facility in the Whistle Bend neighbourhood started in 2016. It gets its water from the Porter Creek reservoir, which increases demand on the McIntyre Creek pump station. The city didn't put out a tender to upgrade the pump station until the summer of 2018. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

The company that's building the extended care facility in the Whistle Bend subdivision of Whitehorse has changed the design because of concerns with groundwater.

PCL Construction has the $109-million contract to design and build the 150-bed long-term care facility. 

A civil engineer had warned that the heavy clay soil was unsuitable for the proposed two-storey underground parkade, predicting there would be drainage problems.

Now PCL has scaled back to one underground storey, because of concerns about groundwater drainage.

Project coordinator Steven Leeming said the original design included plans for the facility to be connected to the city's storm water sewers, thereby alleviating potential problems with water in the ground.

But Leeming said the city refused to let the facility be connected to municipal storm sewers.

Construction of the Whistle Bend continuing care facility is expected to be complete by 2018. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)
"The city said: 'no you can't do that'," said Leeming. "The reason, obviously [is that] they don't want to risk the storm water sewers freezing in the winter." 

Leeming said now there will be only one level in the underground parkade and about two and a half meters of gravel fill is being added to the underground parking site. He said underground tanks will now collect water.

"As those storage tanks get full, which will primarily occur in the seasons where there's snow melt, those tanks will be emptied in fine weather, in warm weather, into the city storm system," he said.

"If those tanks were to get full during the winter season, when we cannot exit that water into the city storm water system, then we'd have to have a truck come and take the water away." 

Leeming says he doesn't know how much the design change will cost, but it will come out of the project's contingency fund.