Waterloo Region and Grand River Hospital are finalizing details for construction costs and property purchase
By Charlotte Prong Parkhill
Kitchener Post staff
Officials with Waterloo Region’s light rail transit project have been meeting behind closed doors with officials from Grand River Hospital to resolve issues with the way LRT will impact the entrance to the King Street hospital.
Among the issues still to be finalized are who pays for what.
“If we’re impacting someone, generally, we (the region) would bear the cost of that impact,” said Thomas Schmidt, commissioner for transportation and environmental services for the region.
Improvement costs are paid for by whoever is getting the improvement, he said.
“The only thing that might cost Grand River Hospital would be upgrades that they would have done anyways,” Schmidt said.
“We haven’t finalized the whole cost-sharing with the hospital, so that still needs to be done.”
In front of the hosptial, the LRT will run east and west down central lanes on King Street, with traffic lanes running curbside.
The region recently changed its proposal at that location, which will now have one platform instead of the two that were originally planned.
The region will need to purchase some property from the hospital for road widening.
The hospital’s emergency entrance, main entrance and parking garage are all currently accessed off King Street at Pine.
According to Mark Karjaluoto, director of communications with Grand River Hospital, hospital planners and engineers have been meeting with officials from the region as well as from the City of Kitchener and the City of Waterloo to discuss the needs of the busy health centre.
“There’s no doubt that there are very unique issues in terms of people requiring 24/7 emergency access, and then there are the thousand or so families and patients and vistiors in a day who come through and need access,” he said.
“We’ve been looking at how our ambulances and emergency vehicles are going to have access to the property. What do we need to do in terms of lighting, grades, utility location and those sorts of aspects.”
Karjaluoto said he’s not certain whether GRH will have to spend its own cash to accommodate the project.
“We don’t know yet. It will certainly be subject to discussion.”
Karjaluoto said it is already costing the hospital some money to have the engineers and planners working out the agreement with the region, but says it’s a common-sense approach.
The region is committed to spending about $253 million on the $818 million project, with the rest of the money coming from the provincial and federal governments.
But the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo will also bear some costs, as they are responsible for paying for any upgrades or improvements to services that would need to be done anyway during the LRT construction phase.
Schmidt said the region will be working with the contractor to ensure access to the hospital is maintained during the construction phase, as it does during all roadwork.
“I believe the issues the hospital has with the parking, the emergency entrance and the main entrance, with the option we’re looking at right now, would be addressed,” he said.
Schmidt also said the region and the hospital are very close to finalizing an agreement, but he could not be more specific because the information isn’t public yet.
“It’s not out there, we haven’t gone to the public, we haven’t gone to the politicians with this,” he said.