EDMONTON -- Construction of the new emergency department in west Edmonton officially began Thursday with the demolition of an old building at the Misericordia Community Hospital.

The former Family Medicine Centre, located on the west end of the property, is being torn down to make room for the expansion.

The new emergency department will be completed in late 2022 and will be able to accept 60,000 patients per year when it opens in 2023.

“We are grateful to government for this opportunity to create an enhanced emergency care environment that will better support our teams in doing their best every day," Convenant Health CEO Patrick Dumelie said in a written release. "It also marks an important step in the revitalization of the Misericordia to meet the growing needs of residents of west Edmonton, and to be a vital partner in Alberta’s health-care system serving the Edmonton zone and northern Alberta for generations to come.”

According to the province, the project is on time and on budget, and will create 445 new jobs.

The demolition will continue through the end of June. The west annex and the decommissioned chapel are also being removed. Crews will be watering down the area to control the dust.

The hospital will remain open throughout the construction of the new department.

The expansion was first announced in 2017 under the then-NDP government, and was upheld by the current UCP government.