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EllisDon won the largest contract in Canadian history to build a $5.3 billion public transportation system in Toronto.

By Kat Zeman

When it comes to tackling large and challenging projects, EllisDon is within its element. The Mississauga, Ontario-based construction and building services company is juggling a variety of multimillion-dollar projects – and one that is worth billions.

“I think where we provide value is in tackling some of the more complex projects out there,” says Ian Kerr, the company’s director of business development for British Columbia. ““We manage projects of all sizes, but the larger the project, the more complexities, the more we can apply our expertise and experience to provide the best solution in delivering that project.”

One of these jobs is a mammoth-size construction project in Toronto. In fact, it is the largest contract ever awarded to a company in Canadian history. The $5.3 billion landmark contract calls for developing a public transportation system that is almost 12.5 miles long and links 25 new stations to Toronto’s existing subway system and GO Transit lines. Dubbed the Eglington Crosstown LRT project, it is targeted for completion in fall 2021.

EllisDon is designing, building, financing and maintaining the project for Metrolinx/Infrastructure Ontario. “We can do a $1 million project or a $5 billion transportation project like this one,” Kerr says. “That’s where we’re unique. We have the resources and expertise to be able to deliver projects of all sizes and complexities because we have the capabilities, the strong industry partnerships, and the understanding to manage every aspect of the project . . . we also have the capability to manage and operate that moving forward.”

After the project is completed, EllisDon will be a key member of the maintenance team. It will be in charge of maintenance and rehabilitation of the project’s system infrastructure, including vehicles and the tunnels, for 30 years after completion.


Another significant project for EllisDon is the Parq Resort and Casino that is under construction in Vancouver. The $400 million hotel and casino broke ground in 2014 and is expected to be completed this fall. EllisDon is providing pre-construction and construction management services for the project. 

“It’s a unique multi-level casino,” Kerr says. “In addition to its size, the building has a unique design for the city with a copper curtain wall and aluminum fins with radiused corners.” EllisDon box

Aside from the casino, the project calls for two luxury resort hotels with a total of more than 500 guest rooms, about 70,000 square feet of conference room space and a new 70,000-square-foot gaming area for the existing Edgewater Casino. 

Both of these hotels will sit above the resort’s podium levels that will also include multiple lounges, five restaurants and a spa and fitness facility.

The casino and resort will encompass about 1.2 million square feet. “This is one of the largest commercial projects in the B.C. area for EllisDon,” Kerr says.

Medical Marvels

A large portion of EllisDon’s business comes from healthcare facilities. The company presently has two multimillion-dollar projects in British Columbia. Construction on the Joseph & Rosalie Segal Family Health Centre, located on the densely-populated property of Vancouver General Hospital, achieved occupancy in April.

“It’s new construction in the middle of a congested hospital campus, which made the project challenging for the team,” Kerr says. “But it’s a great addition to the area.” The new $60 million, 130,000-square-foot facility includes a state-of-the art healing environment for patients needing short-term acute mental health care, including those suffering from major depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, psychotic and mood disorders and substance dependence. It also features a secure roof-top garden for patients that enjoy gardening.

The eight-story, 100-bed facility will consolidate inpatient, outpatient and outreach mental health and addiction services into one building, providing clients with a seamless continuum of care. It has a built-in capacity for the future addition of two extra floors.

EllisDon’s other project in the province, the Penticton Regional Hospital Patient Care Tower in Penticton, is a 300,000-square-foot addition to the existing hospital. Construction on the $325 million tower will start this summer with a targeted completion date in 2019. Since it is an addition to a fully operational hospital, the project will pose challenges because it requires integrating new and existing technology into the tower without disrupting the current operation of the hospital, Kerr says. 

The project’s first phase involves the construction of the new patient care tower and parkade that will include an ambulatory care center, surgical services, 84 medical/surgical inpatient beds in single-patient rooms, a new medical device reprocessing unit and space for the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine program.

The second phase will focus on renovating vacated areas in the existing hospital to allow for an expanded emergency department and other renovations to the hospital’s pharmacy, stores and support areas. The new patient care tower will be designed with LEED Gold certification in mind. 

State of Art

Hospitals and universities make up roughly 20 percent of EllisDon’s business, Kerr notes. The company is coming close to completing the construction of a new campus for the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver. The university has outgrown its current Granville Island campus in Vancouver due to increased student demand and new programs. Set to open in the fall, the $90 million campus will sit on roughly 18 acres and accommodate about 1,800 students. The university expects that its new, modern campus’ spacious facilities will attract even more students. 

The 280,000-square-foot building will feature state-of-art technology, allowing students to learn and interact through integrated displays. Advanced technology will be included on the exterior of the buildings to encourage public programming and there will be a variety of illuminated outdoor spaces to create an inviting atmosphere.

Common spaces in the campus will be open and flexible to encourage interaction among students studying different disciplines and informal social gatherings. The new campus was also designed with LEED Gold certification in mind.

Bases Covered 

Government projects make up another large chunk of EllisDon’s business portfolio. Currently under construction, the fleet maintenance facility at Cape Breton on Vancouver Island is undergoing a $202 million facelift. An active naval base, the facility requires some fancy footwork on the part of EllisDon. It involves demolition, renovation and consolidating the existing facility with a new addition. 

“We’re installing new services, renovating and even remediating in some cases. The overall complexity of working on an active base is challenging.”

The project calls for a combination of new construction, fit-up, renovation, deconstruction and site decontamination to be carried out while regular operations continue at the maintenance facility. The project aims to replace and renovate antiquated, outdated and deficient industrial facilities that total roughly 370,000 square feet. It will enable a fundamentally critical transformation and modernization of the naval shipyard maintenance facility.

A Green Employer 

In 2016, EllisDon partnered with seven other influential companies in Canada to develop an industry-led action plan in support of Canada’s national and international climate change commitments. The Carbon Impact Initiative, as it has become known, is bringing together environmentally conscious industry champions and government leaders in hopes of creating strategies and establishing low-carbon built environments in Canada.

“It’s creating awareness about reducing the carbon impact of the construction industry,” Kerr says.

The group is working to reduce the carbon impact of commercial buildings throughout all stages of development. As a result of leading this initiative, EllisDon was named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers. The competition, now in its 10th year, recognizes employers that lead the nation in creating a culture of environmental awareness.


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