November 23, 2018 by David Kennedy
GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta.—The Alberta government has handed Clark Builders the contract to finish work on a nearly-complete, but issue-plagued new hospital in Grande Prairie.
Clark will take over from Graham Construction, which had spent several years building the hospital before the province claimed to have terminated the deal in early September.
Alberta said the Edmonton-based contractor has a proven track record on health care facilities, pointing to a past hospital project in Yellowknife.
The Grande Prairie site became a battleground this summer as delays and cost overruns threatened the project. The province blamed Graham, while the construction company said timeline changes and added costs were the result of changes to the scope of work ordered by the government. Graham has continually challenged Alberta Infrastructure’s side of the story, saying it terminated the contract Aug. 27 by way of written notice—ahead of the province’s subsequent attempt end the deal. After the contract had been terminated, Graham said it would be seeking damages.
Work on the site has been on hold since September when the Alberta government released a new request for proposals. The hospital’s exterior is essentially complete, while the interior is about three-quarters done.
With the new contractor in place, the province said it expects construction to get back underway shortly, though noted that the ramp-up would likely take until January. Initially, Alberta Infrastructure said it hoped work would resume by the beginning of November.
A crew of between 300 and 400 is expected in the new year, but may not be the same workforce that staffed the site previously.
“Our intent is to work with the new construction manager to provide opportunity for existing trades to determine if they want to bid on a new contract,” the province said. “If other trades are required we welcome local vendors, suppliers, and sub-contractors to submit bids for those aspects of the work.”
With Clark mobilizing to complete the project, the Alberta government said a construction schedule is not yet available. It expects a finalized timeline to be set within the next few months.
The budget—which Graham had argued was inadequate—remains at $763 million.
—Correction: A previous version of this story claimed Alberta terminated its contract with Graham Construction. This version has been corrected to include that Graham provided written notice to end the contract prior to September.