COVID-19 outbreak declared at downtown building site

The regular activity that has occurred consistently at 495 Princess Street since well before September of 2020 has come to a halt.

The construction site – the future site of Unity Place, a 10-storey plus penthouse building with 195 suites overlooking one of the busiest intersections in downtown Kingston at Princess Street and University Avenue – is currently shut down, having declared a COVID-19 outbreak on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021. Construction officially commenced at the site on September 6, 2020.

Work on the construction site at 495 Princess Street (south side of the road) has been stopped following the declaration of a COVID-19 outbreak there on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021. Photo by Penny Cadue.

According to data from Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health, there are currently four cases involved in the outbreak, all of which are currently active.

The first case at the building site was detected on Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, according to James Wilkinson, Vice President of Construction with Podium Developments, the company behind the development at 495 Princess Street.

Both KFL&A Public Health and the Ministry of Labour were contacted immediately, and the company followed the direction of Public Health, Wilkinson explained. Then, another case was detected on the following day.

“We became aware of more than one case on Tuesday, at which time we shut the site down and following KFL&A [Public Health]’s direction – They asked at that time that everyone to go and get tested – So, we’ve been participating since Monday in supporting their contact tracing efforts,” he said.

Wilkinson said that, while it is an unfortunate turn of events, Podium Developments had protocols in place to deal with such circumstances.

“Unfortunately, that’s become routine,” Wilkinson expressed. “It’s never a great time to stop work, but we’re trying to maintain a positive and safe work environment for everyone, so this is sort of par for the course.”

While it is currently unknown when the outbreak will end and work will resume at the building site, Wilkinson said his company is working “hand in glove” with KFL&A Public Health to ensure the situation is dealt with as safely and efficiently as possible.

“We just notify them the second we hear of anything, and work really closely with them,” he said, noting that the Ministry of Labour has expressed that they are satisfied with the company following the direction of Public Health for this matter.

“I’m on the phone with them five times a day. We’re communicating back and forth about what we each know, and communicating outwards to our partners on the projects from there.”

Apart from the outbreak and subsequent work stoppage, things are moving smoothly on the construction site, Wilkinson said.

“It’s going very well. We’re on schedule and getting ready for our Phase One delivery on May 1,” he said, referring to the project’s May 2022 targeted completion date.

“We’ll get past this.”

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