PEI

COVID-19, construction bottlenecks delaying P.E.I.'s mental health campus

A mental health campus in Charlottetown, to include a dedicated acute care hospital and an addictions transition centre, will likely be coming two or three years later than recently announced.

Last report had hospital potentially opening as early as 2023

Some conceptual designs and operational plans have been done, and the campus is moving into the final design phase. (Fathom Studios)

A mental health campus in Charlottetown, to include a dedicated acute care hospital and an addictions transition centre, will likely be coming two or three years later than recently announced.

The mental health campus was announced by the previous Liberal government in 2018, with plans for completion in the 2024-25 fiscal year. After the 2019 win by Dennis King's Progressive Conservatives, the new government promised to complete it more quickly, and as recently as November suggested the hospital could be open within three years.

But Wayne Walker, senior director of capital planning for mental health and addictions, told CBC News Friday completion is now scheduled for 2025-26.

"COVID has set us back," said Walker.

"We're having some difficulties getting some materials, and the cost of, obviously, lumber and steel is skyrocketing, so we're trying to do as much workarounds as we can to keep these costs down."

Walker said he has been consulting with the Construction Association of P.E.I., and that group is telling him labour shortages are also an issue. The industry has been struggling to keep up with rising demand for buildings as the population of the Island grows, and there are currently more than 500 job vacancies.

At 150,000 square feet, Walker estimates the hospital will require more than 100 workers on the construction site.

Final design phase

Last week the province issued a request for proposals for the final design of the acute care hospital and the addictions transition centre.

This follows a process that was completed in January that laid out the operational needs for the two facilities.

The final design will take 18 to 24 months to complete, said Walker.

A tender for the construction will likely go out six to eight months into that process. The plan is to have a builder in place to start construction immediately after the design is complete.

The construction itself will take about two years.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Kerry Campbell

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