Peterborough – On June 2nd Hospice Peterborough issued an update to its donors, volunteers, clients, community partners and the general public about the difficulties the organization has been facing with the Hospice Care Centre project.
This has been a very challenging time at Hospice Peterborough as experts in the field, partners, staff and valued volunteers became aware of the seriousness of the problems being faced with the old building on London Street and realized that some very difficult decisions needed to be made.
It was realized in May that the organization had reached a crossroads and needed to decide the best way forward to serve the community for decades to come. Under advisement of expert consultants and building team, the organization was directed to explore two options with regards to the current Victorian Home on the property:
Option 1: Retain the old house, remediate all known concerns, and renovate as planned, not knowing what other issues might arise;
Option 2: Demolish the old house and rebuild on the existing footprint, under a new contract, up to an agreed-upon maximum price.
The primary focus from day one has remained steadfast – to build a safe, homelike environment where Hospice Peterborough can offer the best possible support to individuals and families living with or affected by life-threatening illness and grief.
Throughout the project the organization has worked closely with architects, engineers, city staff, project managers and contractors to ensure due diligence at every step. However, since construction began last November there have been more challenges than anticipated. For instance:
- poor soil conditions requiring a significant amount of extra fill, higher-than-planned concrete walls and deeper-than-expected concrete piers (caissons);
- protected bat colonies inside the old house that could not be removed until their hibernation was over – and this literally shut down work inside the building over many winter months;
- designated substances in the old house including lead paint, asbestos and… bat guano.
Hospice Peterborough fell in love with the old Victorian home on the property at 325 London Street when searching for the perfect property to build a state-of-the-art, 10 bed care facility and programming centre that would offer a homelike, safe refuge throughout the journey of illness, death and grief. The building was deemed of sound construction although in need of major renovations. It was felt that this older building would help maintain the homelike atmosphere Hospice Peterborough strives for and presently enjoys at its current location. The property also had sufficient acreage to allow the construction of a new adjacent building to house 10 bedrooms for providing end of life care. It was known that some challenges would be faced with the old building and plans and budgets were adjusted accordingly. Staff and volunteers were thrilled with the design developed by Michael Gallant at Lett Architects and were committed to overcome obstacles.
But matters continued to arise and in early May some additional significant problems were revealed:
- severe foundation concerns after the foundation was exposed from the exterior
- interior framing and structural issues when wall coverings and basement ceilings were removed;
- a recommendation from Hospice Peterborough’s structural engineer not to enter the building for fear of collapse.
With the advent of these new issues and lingering concerns about as-yet-undiscovered building envelope issues, Hospice Peterborough’s Building Committee and Care Centre Development Committee met to review the two options, analyzing all pros and cons. A cost analysis was also undertaken and interestingly both options have a similar cost.
Hospice Peterborough has tried its very best to save this old house but as stewards of the generous community funding and donations received, the organization is committed to using each dollar with transparency and integrity, to build the community’s Care Centre and to deliver and expand organizational programs to meet the needs of clients, their families and the city and county of Peterborough. After meetings with the City Planning Department, legal counsel, architect Michael Gallant from Lett Architects and Craig Mortlock from Mortlock Construction, and much careful consideration, the Care Centre Development Committee and Board of Directors have made the decision to proceed with the demolition and new build option.
Hospice Peterborough is currently in negotiations with Mortlock Construction to finalize the terms of the contract so the organization cannot share too much information at this point. This decision involved much deliberation, discussion and the ideas and input from many, including experts in the field, partners and valued volunteers. It has been very difficult for the organization to let go of the old building. But ultimately there was a need to be reminded that this is not a restoration project, it is a project to build a new hospice for the community. Hospice Peterborough remains committed to build the best possible hospice for the community and are working to complete this project as soon as possible as delays in the project negatively impact Hospice clients and their families.
This decision will allow the organization to move forward with a more purpose built structure. One of the challenges of working with the old building was the necessity to fit programs into the existing space. The new two level model that is currently being discussed will improve accessibility and flow and ultimately create a space that is more efficient to operate and maintain. Next steps include negotiating the design build contract, developing the new building design, and planning for an enhanced Every Moment Matters Campaign.
Hospice Peterborough is grateful for the community’s vital support and will continue to share project updates as soon as possible.
For further information, contact:
Linda Sunderland, Executive Director, Hospice Peterborough
P: (705) 742-4042