Major construction milestone reached for new Cape Breton Cancer Centre

Members of the CBRM Health Care Redevelopment are pictured in front of where the new linear accelerators (LINAC) will be located once construction of the new Cape Breton Cancer Centre is complete. Pictured left to right is Mark LeCouter, senior director; Dr. Elwood MacMullin, senior medical director; and Troy Penney, clinical director.

A major project milestone was reached this week for cancer care in Cape Breton, as part of the CBRM Health Care Redevelopment Project. Concrete was poured for the bunkers that will house the two linear accelerators (LINACs). LINACs are the highly sophisticated machines used to provide targeted radiation treatment to patients with a wide variety of cancers.

“These bunkers and new LINACs, mark another important landmark in our journey towards having a new modern cancer care centre,” says Dr. Elwood MacMullin, senior medical director with the CBRM Health Care Redevelopment Project and medical director for the Cape Breton Cancer Centre. “The radiation bunker being created with this concrete pour are integral to the delivery of advanced cancer treatment for our patients right here, close to home.”

Dr. Tynan Stevens is a medical physicist and radiation safety officer at the Cape Breton Cancer Centre. In his role, Dr. Stevens oversees quality assurance of radiation treatment planning and devices. He also plays a vital role in planning and procurement for the new cancer centre.

“There are major advances with this new generation of LINAC which have been procured for the new Cape Breton Cancer Centre,” he says. “The first is the inclusion of a robotic treatment bed that can correct patient positioning for more precise treatment delivery. The second is the addition of ‘high dose rate’ beams that can increase the speed of treatment by up to four times. Combined, these two features will mean faster and more precise treatment delivery for our patients and the availability of treatment options, which at this point we have to refer to the QEII Cancer Centre in Halifax.”

The walls of the rooms, or bunkers that contain these machines, will be about six feet thick when complete. Concrete will be poured for approximately 15 straight hours to build the bunkers for the LINACs. While this work is underway, construction of the new centre’s exterior, roof and windows continues. Construction of the new stand-alone centre, located at the back of the existing Cape Breton Regional Hospital, is expected to be complete in late 2024.

“Pouring the concrete for the treatment rooms is a hugely exciting milestone,” says Dr. Stevens. “This is the foundation of our treatment space and was designed from the ground up to meet our specific needs. The concrete provides stability for the machines and radiation protection for our staff. When the building is finished, you won’t know the concrete is there, but seeing it take shape represents the coming together of a long and complex design process.”

The project at Cape Breton Regional Hospital also includes a new Energy Centre and a Clinical Services Building that will house an emergency department, critical care department, inpatient beds, surgical suites and maternal/newborn services. To learn more about this project, and the health care projects happening in New Waterford, Glace Bay and on the Northside, visit