There’s been a change in the new Mills Memorial Hospital construction project but it won’t affect its budget, say authorities, nor the signing of the project contract now tagged for October 2020.
Planners at first wanted two construction contracts, one for the hospital and one for a new Seven Sisters mental health residential facility to replace the current one which needs to be demolished to make room for the new Mills.
But bids for the new Seven Sisters came in over budget and construction timelines didn’t fit the schedule for the larger project, says Andrea Palmer from the Northern Health Authority.
“We have constraints both for budget and timing and unfortunately the bids we received [for the new Seven Sisters] just didn’t work out,” she said.
“We just couldn’t make it work. That’s nothing against the companies. It just didn’t fit the project.”
Instead, the Seven Sisters build has now been rolled into the larger Mills plan with the expectation of keeping within the projected overall capital cost of $425-$450 million.
“With this we might even get more companies interested and we believe there will be efficiencies by combining both,” said Palmer.
Because the current Seven Sisters needs to be demolished to make room for the new Mills, the new Seven Sisters, which will have 25 beds, an increase of five, the new facility must be open before Mills construction can begin.
In July three proponents — international builder Ledcor, Kelowna-based Vector Projects and Terrace-based Progressive Ventures — were asked to submit Seven Sisters building proposals and it was their responses which brought on the decision to roll the two projects together.
Last Thursday, Oct. 3, was the deadline date for interested companies to submit their qualifications for the combined project.
Planners are now assessing these qualifications, and the experience of interested companies, to then come up with a short list of companies which will then be invited to submit construction proposals.
The list of those shortlisted will be released next month with a preferred proponent selected next August following months of assessments and analysis from submitted proposals. The August selection then leads to a contract signing next October.
A site plan released by the Northern Health Authority places two parking areas, a large one where the current Mills now sits and a smaller one off of Tetrault, close to the Sande Overpass, for 300 vehicle spots.
The new hospital is to be located between the site of the current one and the Sande Overpass with the new Seven Sisters just to the west of the current hospital spot.
With a forecast 78-single occupancy rooms, a near doubling of the current bed count, the new Mills will also have four operating rooms, three diagnostic imaging rooms, 20 treatment spaces in the emergency room and be categorized as a Level III trauma centre providing critical care now only available if patients are flown south.
A new Mills and new Seven Sisters may not be the only construction project underway at the vicinity.
Although traffic patterns to and from the location aren’t expected to change there will be new access and exit points and improvements to local roads there, particularly Haugland, may be required, say city officials.
“Haugland was constructed many years ago with a narrow-strip pavement driving surface with gravel shoulder, open drainage, and poor pedestrian sidewalk infrastructure and may require improvement,” said city development services director David Block.
Costs connected to closing current access and exit points and constructing new ones will be the responsibility of the hospital developer.
“Off-site contributions to improve the sub-standard condition of Haugland required by the developer along their frontage property, as is typical with any new development, are at the cost of the developer,” he added.
Block said the city has been told the cost of any required work is included within the hospital project contract.
All charged up
There’s nothing definitive yet but expect the new Mills and new Seven Sisters to have a number of electric vehicle charging stations.
Northern Health Authority official Andrea Palmer said other new Northern Health facilities have such stations, something she said can be expected to accelerate as more electric vehicles appear on northern roads.
City development services director David Block said the city does not have any regulations in place requiring the provision of charging stations in a parking facility.
Project office to open in Terrace
Just how many people will be involved or where they will be located isn’t known yet but the Northern Health Authority is to soon open a project office in Terrace.
A project director and a contract director have already been appointed and interviews are going on for several other positions, says Palmer.
One person in this office will be responsible for taking questions from the community and providing answers as the project takes shape, she said.