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Northern Lights Regional Health Centre: A Community Update

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The Northern Lights Regional Health Centre has been a staple of the Fort McMurray skyline for decades. Perched on a hill overlooking the lower townsite, the Health Centre, with its giant H beacon of healthcare, has barely changed from its 1970’s origins. Sure, the grounds have matured, the trees have grown and the parking lots have been expanded, but the physical shape and bland exterior remained the same.

But, that skyline began to look a lot different this summer as scaffolding and sheeting surrounded the facility, shrouding it in an aura of mystery.


What’s going on?


A major facelift and retrofit of the entire exterior of the facility, planned in 2013-2015 and slated to start in the spring of 2016, are going to fundamentally change the silhouette of the building and extend its lifespan. 

In fact, the building envelope of the NLRHC is being completely upgraded, updating the look of the facility while also improving energy efficiency and patient privacy. Work that will be done over the next four years includes new cladding, new windows, new roofs and even physical adjustments to the shape of some roofs and walls for improved rain drainage. 

Due to the timing of the project’s launch, many in the community assumed that the Health Centre sustained wildfire-related damages, but that was not the case. Work on the project was originally slated to begin in May but was obviously pushed back because of the wildfire. In fact, scaffolding crews were on the way up to Fort McMurray on May 3 and were turned back while on the highway.

The entire project will take several years to complete and will proceed in three phases. Phase One is underway in portions of the south and west sides of the tower on floors 2 through 5. The work includes removal of existing materials and the installation of new framing, sheathing, insulation, and finish cladding material. Yes, the old and dated brown exterior is going! Then new stud framing will be installed along with the new exterior wall. The exterior windows will also be installed at that time and then the old windows will be taken out from the inside.

Phase two of the project is slated to begin in 2018 and the facility will be completed in 2020. The prime consultant on this project is Rockliff, Pierzchajlo, Kroman; and Delnor is the construction company.

Total cost is 42-million dollars and the project is on time and on budget. When completed, the facility will be clad in a beautiful and durable finish, the building will be fresh, and the silhouette against the Fort McMurray skyline will be dramatic.