Construction is set to start on the Willow Square Continuing Care Centre this spring.
In front of a packed crowd at the Golden Years Society on Friday, Sandra Jansen, Minister of Infrastructure, announced shovels will be in the ground by the end of March.
Work is expected to last roughly two-years finishing by the end of 2019 – open to the public by the spring of 2020.
President of the Golden Years Society Joan Furber tells Mix News she’s happy but won’t be content until she finally sees ground broken on the project.
“I want to see the hole in the ground, I believe it’s going to happen but I want to see the hole being dug.”
Councillor Phil Meagher echoed the same message.
“As soon as we see the shovels in the ground we’ll believe it, we’ve been told stories before – I think you can all remember the sign ‘coming soon’ well if this is soon, we’re going to live to be old age. This is well past its due date.”
According to Mayor Don Scott, plans for the centre have been discussed since he moved to Fort McMurray 20 years ago. At one point the facility was planned for Parsons Creek, then the province announced in November of 2015 they will build it in Willow Square.
Scott says this day has been a long time coming.
“It’s a day I’ve dreamed of for a long time, I know the seniors have advocated for it, there’s been a lot of leadership in the community who’ve advocated for it – it’s time to get it done, we’re finally delivering.”
Pomerleau Inc. and S2 Architecture have been awarded the contract for the $110 million project. It’s expected that roughly 240 construction jobs will be created.
Meanwhile, there is still no timeline of plans for the Aging-In-Place facility also planned for Willow Square.
Scott says he’s been in talks with both the Minister of Health and Seniors looking to gain provincial support for the project.
“They’ve both pointed me back to the other, so there’s still a lot more work to be done there.”
While he still waits for confirmation about the facility, Scott added he’s happy to at least see a commitment to the Continuing Care Centre.