Photo: Branimir Balogović / Unsplash

With the novel coronavirus continuing to spread across Canada, it’s an all-hands-on-deck effort to provide support for essential workers. Even in the real estate industry, professionals are lending a hand where they can.

A group of Toronto-based developers and architects have joined forces to produce and raise funds for 3D-printed face shields that will be supplied to frontline workers. To date, over $41,000 has been raised for the GoFundMe initiative, just past the half-way point of the collaboration’s $75,000 goal.

Last month, a handful of Toronto-based developers, who are clients of Chicago-based bKL Architects, received a note about bKL’s initiative to repurpose its 3D printers that are typically used to print building models and instead being used to make face shields for frontline workers. These Toronto-based developers were inspired and it sparked an idea to launch a similar local initiative.

The developers in the partnership — Fitzrovia Real Estate, DiamondCorp, Tricon Capital Group, and CentreCourt Developments — are working to source materials, raise funds and coordinate logistics with the hospitals and long-term care facilities who will receive the face shields. IBI Group has been laser-cutting the protective polycarbonate face shield component at their headquarters on St. Clair West, while Quadrangle and Turner Fleischer are also 3D-printing the headband that holds the shield in place. Having started the production process a week ago, the first shipment of face shields will be ready to send out by early next week.

Photo: IBI Group

“We are inspired by the effort of many individuals and companies who are doing everything they can to help,” said Mansoor Kazerouni, the Global Director of Buildings at IBI Group. “It instills a lot of confidence in the basic humanity that exists within each of us and the overwhelming desire to give back when the need arises.”

Like N95 masks, goggles and disposable gloves, face shields are an essential form of personal protective equipment (PPE) that reduce the wearer’s exposure and risk of infection. As these items are vital for the safety of at-risk frontline workers, including nurses, doctors and assisted-living staff, avoiding PPE shortages has been a consistent concern amid the escalating pandemic.

“It is important for the real estate industry to contribute to the broader communities we are a part of. We are so grateful to the healthcare workers who are on the front lines dealing with COVID-19 and putting themselves at greater risk in order to care for our community,” said the development team in a joint statement to Livabl. “The collaboration and fund raising efforts underway for PPE is our way to help contribute to the safety of our health care workers and the health care system.”

Manufacturers from all corners of the country have stepped in to help boost the critical supply of PPE, often changing their means of production to something entirely different. We’ve seen distillers switch to making hand sanitizer, and factories change over to sewing medical gowns.

“Regardless of what the industry is, to see people pivot and roll up their sleeves and actually help and contribute to us all getting through this is what is important right now,” said the development team.

The money raised will cover the cost of production for the face shields. Any additional funds will be donated to hospitals and other organizations to support those affected by COVID-19.

“We are playing a very small part,” said Kazerouni. “The real heroes are the frontline workers. We salute and thank them for their efforts.”

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