UPDATE: Trees coming down at new Courtenay hospital site a day later than expected

Tree clearing on the Comox Valley hospital site is expected to start March 5 and continue through to March 8.

Tree clearing on the site of the new $334 million, 153-bed Comox Valley hospital is expected to start March 5, a day later than expected.

Tree clearing will continue through to Friday March 8 at the site near Lerwick and Ryan roads. Efforts will be made to retain as many trees as possible, but most of the trees on the 11-acre wooded portion of the site will have to be removed for safety reasons, said Tom Sparrow, chief project officer.

“Although trees will be left wherever possible, we must ensure site safety by reducing the risk of blow down,” he said. “An arborist was retained to recommend the best approach. We recognize how important site safety is to the Comox Valley community.”

The reduction in tree numbers is temporary. The site will be landscaped with more than 1,000 trees after construction including Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar, Sitka Spruce, Western Hemlock, Dogwood, pine and other species. Site preparation work including landscaping will continue through June.

Safety is the top priority on and around the site. The North Island Hospitals Project team is working closely with the City of Courtenay, North Island College, School District 71, Queneesh Elementary School parents, the Beaufort Children’s Centre and the site preparation contractor Leighton Contracting (2009) Ltd., to ensure all safety concerns are properly addressed. The site has been fenced in preparation for tree clearing. The North Island Hospitals Project team will work with Leighton Contracting to ensure that any disruptions caused by the site preparation work are anticipated and kept to a minimum.

“We’re going to bend over backwards to make sure the public and workers are protected,” said Rob Leighton of Leighton Contracting (2009) Ltd. “We’ll do everything in our power to make this the best, safest job possible.”

The North Island Hospitals Project also includes construction of a new $266 million, 95-bed hospital at the existing Campbell River Hospital site. Construction of both new hospitals will get underway in 2014, with the hospitals ready for occupancy by late 2017. Funding for the project is being provided by the Province (60 per cent) and the Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District (40 per cent).

For more information, including site preparation information updates, please visit the North Island Hospitals Project web page at www.viha.ca.

— Vancouver Island Health Authority

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