The Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District board is preparing to approve its $87 million share of the Cariboo Memorial Hospital redevelopment project. Staff will prepare a bylaw for the board to vote on at its Oct. 25 meeting. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

The Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District board is preparing to approve its $87 million share of the Cariboo Memorial Hospital redevelopment project. Staff will prepare a bylaw for the board to vote on at its Oct. 25 meeting. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

CMH: Regional district earmarks $87 million for hospital upgrades

The Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District will contribute 40 per cent of total project cost

Later in October the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District board intends to pass a bylaw to approve its $87 million share of the Cariboo Memorial Hospital redevelopment plan.

During its regular board meeting Friday, Oct. 4, the board approved the amount which represents 40 per cent of the estimated total project cost of $220 million.

Kevin Erickson, chief financial officer of the Cariboo Regional District, said the CCRHD is in a strong position to financially contribute to “this vital health investment in the Cariboo.”

“The CCRHD currently has $66.5 million in cash and investments,” Erickson said. “A large portion of the money has been saved up from taxation, as we’ve been setting aside reserve funds for the last 18 years.”

When the board votes on the bylaw on Oct. 25, it will ask for capital funding for the full amount of the CRD’s portion.

“Although it will approve the full contribution, the CCRHD does not pay until Interior Health has incurred the expense and request payment for them,” Erickson explained. “On a big project like this, the contractor will make monthly progress draws over the course of the construction. The CCRHD will likely be requested to pay our 40 per cent of each progress draw.”

Read more: Minister Dix seals deal on $218 million Cariboo Memorial Hospital redevelopment plan

Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson, CCRHD chair, said the board had passed a previous motion of intent to contribute the 40 per cent once they knew the ball park figure was going to be around $220 million.

“We had a staff report that came forward with the pricing for the $27 million for the GR Baker addition and around $220 million for CMH addition and reno,” Simpson told the Tribune. “We had staff bring forward a financing plan. We’d had two discussions — one with Interior Health present and one with just the board so really last Friday was formalizing decisions we’d made and moving to the bylaw stage.”

Simpson said the project is now in the request for proposal stage and the earliest shovels will be in the ground will be early 2021.

“We are in this period of turning it from a concept project into an actual building project that can go out to bid.”

In the first stage the addition will be constructed and once it is completed the renovation to the existing building will begin, a timeline Simpson estimated will take five years in total.

“The CAO pointed out since we have the two projects on the go, the finance staff at the regional district will be looking for the best borrowing window and best rate for long-term,” Simpson said. “We get good rates from the Municipal Finance Authority and there is still a lot of buzz about zero financing on the world market so hopefully that will up some downward pressure on the current rates.”

During the Union of BC Municipalities Convention in Vancouver last month, they met with Interior Health, Simpson said.

“The one area we asked them to consider beefing up is their communications. The procurement process, especially for a hospital, is very complicated.”

Hospitals are very technical projects and there is a lot of work to be done on the addition itself and that it has to be integrated with the existing building, which is from the 1960s, he added.

“Getting all the actual design and engineer drawings, getting it out to request for proposals, then getting a successful proponent who is going to do the work, that’s what that next year to 18 months does. Once it is locked in we will have firmer pricing and the actual physical project can proceed.”

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