Despite COVID-19 changing the way many things are done, two major projects in Glace Bay are continuing while maintaining safe construction practices.
The construction of the new police station and the refit of the Bayplex are forging ahead.
Ian Storey of I.B. Storey Inc., said despite the health challenges being faced in the world, the Bayplex project is continuing on schedule.
“The major equipment was already on site long before this happened ... world events with COVID,” he said.
When the outbreak began, he said the general contractor implemented health and safety procedures regarding COVID-19 specifically.
“They proceeded to work in a safe fashion,” he said. “Work is continuing on the interior in terms of the mechanical and ventilation, upgrades and refurbishments.”
The deteriorating Bayplex officially closed in July 2017. The $9.2-million project tendered to Brilun Construction Ltd. began in June and includes upgrades and expansion of the facility.
Storey said like everyone else, they are waiting to see if there’s going to be any impact here but right now they are proceeding on schedule for completion by July 1.
“We’re just trying to keep things moving and like everyone are looking forward to the day when COVID is just a story of the past.”
Meanwhile, the current home for the Cape Breton Regional Police in east division is a former Devco building, constructed in the 1970s. Ground broke on the new 9,000-square-foot building — a $2,673,595 project — in June 2019 with a completion date of June 2020.
Allan Clarke, manager of parks, grounds and buildings for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, said the project is nearing completion but because of the spread of COVID-19, the schedule has been pushed ahead.
In an email response to questions, Clarke said contractor Lindsay Construction has put new working measures in place that includes split shifts from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. and 3-11 p.m., staggered breaks and cleaning three times per day.
“This helps keep the project moving forward while keeping social distancing and everyone safe,” he said.
At this time the exterior of the building has been completed, the interior work is continuing with social distancing the main concern. The contractors continue to work on drywall, ceramic tile, plumbing, electrical and communication, millwork, interior glass and tile. The landscaping will be deferred to late spring or early summer.
The projected completion date is April 30, but that date is "not set in stone as the virus dictates how we move forward," he added.
Mike Kelloway, MP for Cape Breton-Canso, said when you think of the Bayplex — which will be renamed the Glace Bay Miners Forum — it is a wonderful place for not just minor hockey but community gatherings such as weddings, anniversaries and special functions.
“It’s a real place for people to come together.”
Kelloway commends all levels of government for coming together and putting a significant amount money on the table to see the project become a reality.
There’s a special significance with COVID-19 here, the finished part will be there for the community afterwards, he said.
When it comes to the police station, Kelloway said full credit goes to the mayor and councillors of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality for not only pushing for the project but for making it a part of the community and for the services it will offer.
Kelloway said it’s not only significant because it’s in the downtown core, but it will become a real community police station where people can utilize a boardroom for meetings and community functions.
“Hats off to the municipality, the CBRM has been very progressive when it comes to looking at the new station and the services that will form that,” he said.
As well, Kelloway said both projects add to Glace Bay's downtown core, which also includes Senator’s Place, the Savoy Theatre and the Cape Breton Miners' Museum.
“We’re in the middle of (the pandemic) but we’re going to come up out of COVID-19 and we’ve got a bit of momentum in Glace Bay with our community groups, a cluster of people working to turn things around in Glace Bay. That matters. I think we’re starting to see that momentum even during this crisis situation.”
Dave MacKeigan, vice chair of the community development group Bay it Forward, said it’s great to see these projects continuing and with safe guidelines and advice being adhered to by the companies.
MacKeigan said the police station looks close to completion and he always sees lots of activity at the Bayplex.
“These projects will give the community reason to come together and celebrate once this pandemic is over,” he said.
“Then Bay it Forward will continue to be there for our community, building partnerships and advancing economic growth to bring our community of Glace Bay together.”