Some local elected officials are asking Interior Health for an update on the construction of the new Cariboo Memorial Hospital redevelopment.
Williams Lake City Councillor Scott Nelson and Cariboo Regional District Director for Area D Steve Forseth aired their concerns publicly, just hours before staff gathered inside to celebrate the hospital’s 60th anniversary.
Construction of the hospital expansion was scheduled to begin this year, but as the end of construction season in our region draws near, ground has yet to be broken on the estimated $215 million project.
Interior Health reports it is still in “active negotiations with our preferred proponent – Graham Design Builders – for the construction part of this project” and expect to have the final project design later this year.
“The concern from a number of us elected … is the longer this gets put off – given construction inflationary rate is hovering around four per cent a month – the budget is not going to be able to hold at $215 million,” Forseth told the Williams Lake Tribune, noting they have not been told if Interior Health will be covering any overages.
He said the regional district hospital board needs to have time to discuss any changes to their $86 million portion of the cost.
“We haven’t heard from them for quite some time,” said Forseth.
Due to budget deadlines with the regional district, he said they need to have an idea of budget revisions by January of 2023 at the latest.
The budget for the project already increased by $15 million during the planning phase, reported in 2018, an increase attributed to materials, labour and standards for health care facilities.
Forseth also said he has heard concerns from constituents regarding staffing the facility, and said regular updates could also help address these concerns.
Interior Health stated it “recognizes the importance of this major expansion and upgrade to the hospital in Williams Lake for the local patients, including Aboriginal peoples in the region, and the community.”
Wednesday afternoon, Derek Keller, hospital director, provided more details in an update during the 60th anniversary celebration of the current hospital.
“The project is still moving ahead,” said Keller. “We have had a bit of a blip and when I say blip I mean shovels are going into the ground in the spring as opposed to this fall. They are going to do the parking lot this fall.”
Keller noted the project will take place in two phases and will result in the hospital going from 28 beds to 52, with six of those being psychiatric beds.
The first phase is expected to take three-or three-and-a-half years and the second phase will take two years, meaning about six years for the construction to be completed.
With files from Monica Lamb-Yorski.