WINCHESTER – If and when the Canadian government calls on companies to come up with innovative solutions to providing emergency hospital space during the COVID-19 pandemic, SNC-Lavalin PAE Inc. will be ready.

The international company has come up with a novel way to build a modular hospital should it be needed, and they would like to come to Chesterville to demonstrate their idea to government.

They have selected the former Nestlé plant as a suitable place for their work.

Robert Spencer the president and general of SNC-Lavalin PAE Inc. attended the Aug. 11 North Dundas council meeting to ask if certain light and noise restrictions could be lifted for the area around the Nestlé plant for a short period of time, while the eventual construction area was set up.

“We request approval to deviate from overnight light and noise restrictions for the four-week period expected in September to October when we will be assembling our mockup,” said Spencer.

Nothing can take place until the Canadian government asks them to begin, however, Spencer said they wanted to be ready.

The council agreed to the request.

Spencer explained, “The solution centres around ISO containers, fitted up and connected to form a mobile health unit (MHU). Canada is currently reviewing the MHU design to determine if it will acquire these containerized health care facilities.”

He said the government could at any time ask SNC-Lavalin PAE Inc. to demonstrate a mock-up of the MHU. The facility would have to have the room for additional MHU containers needed for future deployments. The Nestlés’ plant would become a logistical base as well as a location for material warehousing.

“Once the demonstration is complete, we will store our equipment and prepare for call-ups to deploy our inventory as needed,” said Spencer.

The lifting of light and sound restriction would only apply during a limited period of time, when 24 hours per day operations would be required.

“Night time operations would occur during one three-week period expected in September/October 2020,” said Spencer. There would be a slight increase in local traffic with some 4-5 trucks per day performing container delivery and up to two trucks per hour for five days in the event of a deployment.

The company expects to be able to house 212 containers, 8’ x 40’ and 8’ x 20’ in size.

The idea would be to connect the containers up to form a hospital, with each room being self sufficient with its own electricity.

“First deliveries of containers from manufacturers to Chesterville would be around September. Following the demonstration in mid-October, we will continue to receive and store the container units from manufacturers to build our inventory,” said Spencer.

If the government called for a deployment of the MHU containers, that would result in an increase in local traffic at night as containers are shipped by truck at a rate of up to two trucks per hour continuously for five days.

Spencer said, “Overall, Canada may end this program in October 2020, May 2021 or October 2021 at their discretion based on Canada’s ongoing evaluation of its needs in mounting a response to COVID.”

Spencer pointed out several ways the impact of their stay in Chesterville could be lessened.

“Schedule deliveries during normal daytime working hours when possible, and limit heavy work and noise generating activities to during normal daytime hours when possible. “He said they would use mechanical/acoustic sound mitigation (generators, heavy equipment) at all times and careful positioning of lighting to limit light spillage from the site. They would limit use of higher levels of lighting to situations where it is required for safe operations.