WIDC Construction To Start In April
By 250 News
Friday, March 22, 2013 02:26 PM
(Architect Michael Green's rendering of WIDC building at 5th and George. Photo 250 NEWS)
Prince George, B.C. – The long-promised and somewhat controversial Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George will be built on the former site of the Prince George Hotel.
MLAs Pat Bell and Shirley Bond were joined by the design architect, the successful contractor, UNBC President Dr. George Iwama, local politicians and a room full of interested parties at the Ramada Inn for what Bell called the final stage of the procurement process for the WIDC. Bell announced that the $25.1 million, six-storey building will be built by PCL Constructors West Coast Inc., and that the design architect is Michael Green of Vancouver. Both parties are well-acquainted with Prince George. PCL was the primary contractor on the Northern Cancer Centre while Green was responsible for the addition to the Prince George Airport. Both projects incorporated a substantial amount of wood.
Bell says “This has been a project that has meant a tremendous amount to many individuals across British Columbia and I believe it will advance the cause of wood construction, not just here in British Columbia, not just across Canada, but in fact across the world. It will have a meaningful impact for our forest industry as we move into the future.”
Bell says the Wood Innovation and Design Centre is meant to display different styles of construction, different building systems in a building that can be used as a demonstration. It will be constructed completely of wood, except for the
foundation. And it will incorporate species from all over the province. The Centre will include office space, industry use, UNBC academic and research programming, and a tall building research chair will be working through the construction process to make sure wood construction can be advanced.
Anibal Valente, who oversees PCL’s construction operations in B.C., says construction will begin within the next 45 days, depending on the weather, will a completion date of June, 2014. He says PCL will use local supplies and local workers on the project. Design Architect Michael Green says just about 2-thousand cubic metres of wood be used in the construction, and says at 27.5 metres it will be the tallest wood construction building in North America. The bottom floor will be double height. He says wood will be used inside, outside, wood instead of concrete will be used for the floors, there will be wood furniture and even the light fixtures will be made of wood.
Acting Mayor Dave Wilbur called this “A fantastic day.” He said Pat Bell and Shirley Bond have been persistent and “great partners who deserve the thanks of the community for pushing for this. We are going to see a rebirth we’ve all been waiting for.”
The Wood Innovation and Design Centre was first promised by the Liberal government in the 2009 throne speech. Then, after she became premier, Christy Clark made the announcement that a 10-storey centre would be built under a $161 million project. The WIDC has attracted a fair bit of controversy and foreclosure proceedings on the part of Northern Development Initiatives Trust to recover the nearly $1.5 million it loaned Commonwealth Campus Corporation to purchase properties in the 400 block George Street. That action is before the courts. As well, two businessmen, Commonwealth’s Dan McLaren and BID Group head Brian Fehr have alleged that the government did not live up to arrangements they believed were in place regarding the WIDC project.
Asked why the government is proceeding in light of all the controversy, Bell says “I have answered that question literally hundreds of times. I’ve been very clear on it each and every time and today is about celebrating a $25 million investment in the downtown of Prince George, a new innovative wood building, the tallest modern wood building in North America that’s going to be built down here, and I’m not going to comment on past history around other claims that have been made.”