The end of an Era

Demolition of the hospital’s Riddell Street property is well underway! Although it is hard to see when you drive by, due to the black screening that protects the neighbourhood from dust and debris, the Finkle Building (auditorium and old nursing school) and the Vance Building (old nursing residence, RSA and mental health) are gone, and the old hospital is disappearing, piece by piece.

Priestly Demolition Inc., of Aurora is in charge of taking the old buildings down, with a focus on recycling 90-95% of the construction materials. With 35 workers on site daily, Priestly is sorting and piling recyclables for pick up, including brick, asphalt, steel, glass and metal. The cement will be crushed and used to backfill the basements and other materials have been donated to agents such as, ReStore, operated by Habitat for Humanity. When Priestly began demolition, most of the old, leftover equipment was either sold privately or donated to agencies like the Dubois Charitable Foundation that sends health-care equipment to hospitals in Cuba.

Other steps undertaken include hiring DST Consulting to ensure that regulations and approved practices are followed throughout the demolition process, and a traffic study was undertaken that showed reverting the land to residential use would reduce traffic flow by over 60% from when the hospital was in full operation. Through a competitive bid process, the hospital has engaged CBRE, a real estate brokerage firm in London, ON to market the old property, which will be available for sale by this summer.

Throughout this process, the hospital has attempted to keep its former neighbours updated about plans for the property. “We really appreciate the patience, cooperation and understanding that our neighbours have exhibited during this transition phase,” stated Perry Lang, COO, Woodstock Hospital. “We are doing everything we can to keep disruptions to a minimum. The last thing to come down will be the smoke stack, which will be dismantled brick by brick. We are anticipating that demolition will be complete by early July.”

On March 13, 2013, County Council gave the final approval on the Official Plan Amendment, as recommended by the Woodstock City Council, slating the land for low/medium density residential. At the meeting, Warden Don McKay spoke to the efforts Woodstock Hospital has made noting, “It is great to see the commitment of the Woodstock Hospital Board to finishing the clean-up and restoration of the old hospital site in a timely and responsible manner. The County of Oxford fully supports their Official Plan Amendment application that will ensure low density residential development and compatible uses on the site. I am certain the Hospital Board has a full agenda managing and operating the new facility and they need to be recognized for making time to take care of all the details of the old site. Well done!”

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