Matheson building new $165.3 million social services building in the Soo

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Matheson Constructors Ltd. of Aurora is building a new $165.3 million building for the District of Sault. Ste. Marie Social Services (DSSMSS) administration.

The new structure at 540 Albert Street will join all social services divisions including housing services, early years, Ontario works and corporate services, The Sault Star reports.

The intent is to streamline services, create cost efficiencies and improve access to services for clients and the community.

“We want it to come together as one family,” DSSMSS CEO Mike Nadeau was quoted as saying. “Right now, the current system has people moving to multiple buildings to get different services and it just does not make sense for us to ask them to jump through hoops. We should be the organization that is truly trying to wrap the services around them. What we want to be able to do is almost make it a one-stop shop where people can come and get the services in one location, rather than having to attend multiple appointments to get the same service.”

The 33,000 sq. ft, four-storey structure is expected to be completed in 2023.

The existing Ontario Works building on the site will remain there until a decision is made on the structure’s future. Public Health Ontario has a lease on a portion of the building in place until 2029. Nadeau says the building has been there for about 65 years. The new building will be built next to the older structure.

Carl Rumiel, the city’s manager of design and transportation engineering, says that construction of the new building on Brock Street is being impacted by lack of available space for material and equipment storage, as well as the offloading of trucks. This has caused a significant amount of traffic congestion during business hours, has potential to delay the project and has created a potentially dangerous traffic situation. For that reason, a road closure is necessary, SooToday reports.

Rumiel said the Ministry of Labour has directed the contractor to bring another site trailer and a further washroom trailer to the site to meet their COVID-19 requirements, which will cause further congestion on the site spilling over to Brock Street, and could potentially create an unsafe flow of traffic.

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