Edmonton EXPO Centre set to become mass vaccination site

The Edmonton EXPO Centre will soon be transformed into a mass vaccination site.

Starting on April 12, a partnership between the City of Edmonton, Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the Government of Alberta will allow the facility to open for high volume COVID-19 vaccinations, said a news release from the province.

“This is another step forward to delivering the vaccine as quickly and safely as possible," Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro said in a written statement.

"I want to thank everyone involved for working together to protect public health. This will help more Edmonton-area residents get protected from COVID-19 and help us achieve our goal of offering every adult Albertan the vaccine by June 30.”

According to the province, the EXPO Centre has the capacity to distribute more than 7,000 immunizations daily.

The mass vaccination site will operate 12 hours a day, seven days a week, with up to 154 vaccination stations.

Albertans can check their eligibility and book an appointment online or by calling 811. 

EDMONTON 'READY, WILLING AND ABLE': CITY MANAGER

Edmonton's city manager Andre Corbould says the city is "ready, willing and able" to open the EXPO Centre's doors to be used as a mass vaccination site.

"The EXPO site is the obvious choice for a high volume to go through," Corbould told CTV News Edmonton in a news conference at city hall, following an emergency advisory committee meeting where he updated members of council on various COVID-19-related issues.

"We've been collaborating with Alberta Health and AHS and we're ready to go," he added.

Operation of the site would cost Edmonton taxpayers roughly $1.3 million that will go toward staffing outside the building.

"I think the concept would be that the indoor operations are run by Alberta Health, and we help with the outdoor operations." said Corbould. "Everything from parking to marshalling to making sure people are comfortable as they wait for their vaccination."

A Vincent van Gogh art exhibit had been slated to launch at the EXPO Centre on April 15 after it was postponed last month. 

With Alberta moving back into Step 1 of its COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday, it's not clear when that exhibit might now open.

Regardless of that, both Edmonton's city manager and mayor insist that the large Edmonton facility has enough room to house both events. 

“EXPO Centre has symbolized the ongoing and collaborative working relationship between the City of Edmonton and Alberta Health Services over the past year," Mayor Don Iveson said in the Government of Alberta news release.

"Just as the facility provided space hosting our city's most vulnerable at the pandemic's start, the Expo Centre will offer many Edmontonians their way out of COVID as a large-scale vaccination venue.”

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson