Provincial health minister Adrian Dix came to Terrace May 21, 2019 to announce the go ahead for a new Mills Memorial Hospital. (File photo)

Provincial health minister Adrian Dix came to Terrace May 21, 2019 to announce the go ahead for a new Mills Memorial Hospital. (File photo)

New Mills hospital in Terrace to see construction cost increase

Province set to make announcement

The provincial government will soon announce a significant increase in the cost to construct a new Mills Memorial Hospital.

Although projected to be $447.5 million when provincial approval was given in 2019 to a state-of-the-art facility to replacing the existing but aging and inadequate Mills, the cost could now be more than $600 million.

A reference to a new construction cost arose last night during a City of Terrace public hearing into the rezoning of a piece of property to permit the construction of a transload facility whereby goods would either be loaded into rail cars from trucks or unloaded from rail cars into trucks.

That facility would be near the site of the new Mills but its closeness could be problematic for safety reasons, noise and air pollution, say those opposed to the rezoning.

One of those opposed to the rezoning, Dr. Natasha DeSousa, spoke at last night’s public hearing.

The emergency department physician lead at Mills Memorial, DeSousa emphasized that she was speaking on behalf or herself and not Northern Health.

“I am absolutely opposed to this,” said DeSousa of the rezoning. “A regional hospital that would be double the size of what we have now with an investment of more than $600 million, an investment I believe is in jeopardy should the area be rezoned heavy industrial.”

When asked to confirm that figure, Northern Health referred inquiries to the provincial health ministry, which said that a statement would be released soon.

But while the construction cost is set to increase, there will not be a direct taxation impact to property owners in the region who are paying for a portion of the costs.

That’s because the North West Regional Hospital District struck a deal with the province in 2019 to finance no more than 30 per cent of any construction cost to a maximum of $113.7 million.

Based on original construction schedules, contractor PCL Construction and the province were have to have signed a final contract agreement by now to formally start the project.

That hasn’t happened yet but preliminary work started last month with trees being cleared from the construction site and PCL beginning to prepare the ground for foundations.