The Cariboo Memorial Hospital (CMH) redevelopment project is going ahead with a budget of more than $366 million, an increase from the 2021 estimate of $217.8 million.
Interior Health announced Wednesday, Feb. 15, a construction contract has been signed with Graham Design Builders LP for the project, noting the cost will be shared by the province and the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District (CCRHD).
B.C.’s minister of health Adrian Dix said soon shovels will be going in the ground.
“With a new emergency department, mental-health unit and cancer department, the redeveloped CMH will be a game-changer for decades to come,” Dix said.
Al Richmond, CCRHD chair, said the CCRHD’s share of the hospital project will be $146.69 million.
Hospital projects around the province have seen increased budgets, so they were anticipating it would be the same for CMH.
He said the increased costs present challenges because the CCRHD is also paying its share for the GR Baker Memorial Hospital intensive care unit upgrade in Quesnel and the chiller project at the 100 Mile hospital.
“We are looking at an increase of $5 per $100,000 assessed value for the hospital function in our taxation. We will have to talk with the minister because we are a small area with limited taxation,” Richmond said.
Upgrading CMH has been a focus for 12 to 15 years and the CCRHD has saved $78 million toward the project, which Richmond said is fortunate.
It has taken a long time to get the design completed because the scope is large while the COVID-19 pandemic also was a delaying factor.
“It’s an all-encompassing project that captures the needs of the Cariboo Chilcotin,” Richmond said. “It touches every piece that impacts patients and staff.”
Williams Lake Mayor Surinderpal Rathor said he is excited, adding the project is long overdue.
“I want to give credit to Interior Health and the CCRHD leadership and all involved.”
Priority will be given to local subcontractors to work on the construction, Rathor said, noting he is looking forward to the completion because he hopes it will attract more medical professionals to work in the community.
“There hasn’t been a day I was not stopped by someone asking me what is happening with the hospital,” Rathor said.
Presently the city is working on completing the building permits for the project, Rathor noted, adding he hopes work will begin in April.
The redevelopment will include an addition as well as renovations to the existing facility, originally built in 1961.
There will be three storeys in the addition, plus a basement, and approximately 9,300 square metres (100,100 square feet).
Construction will happen in two phases.
Phase 1, which includes the addition, will begin in spring 2023 and is expected to finish in fall 2026.
Phase 2, which includes renovations to the existing hospital, will begin in fall 2026 and is scheduled to be complete in early 2029.
Twenty-five in-patient beds will be added for a total of 53, plus 71 new parking stalls.
Richmond said a new interfaith sacred space will allow for traditional healing practices and treatments for individuals, particularly elders.
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