The provincial government is so far choosing not to comment on suggestions a new Mills Memorial Hospital will now cost in excess of $600 million, more than the previously stated $447.5 million.
“We understand people in Terrace are interested in learning more about what is happening with the new hospital project,” a brief statement from the health ministry June 18 indicated.
“More details on this important project will be provided very soon.”
The ministry had been asked to comment on a statement made by a local physician during a City of Terrace public hearing on an unrelated matter that the cost would be more than $600 million.
“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,” said Mills Memorial emergency department physician lead Dr. Natasha DeSousa June 14 regarding a rezoning application made by the developers of a railyard cargo loading facility to be located close to the new Mills Memorial.
Based on original construction timetables the province and its prime contractor on the project, PCL Construction, were to have signed a final contract several months ago to formally set in motion what is scheduled to be the largest ever direct provincial government construction project in the north.
PCL has, however, been moving equipment to the location in preparation for the start of a foundation work and a permit valued at $18 million for that has been obtained from the City of Terrace.
The multi-national construction company has also been bringing in outside workers as well as advertising locally for the project which will take until the end of 2025 to complete. Demolition of the current Mills will take until late 2026.
The $447.5 million figure was released in mid-May 2019 when the provincial government announced it was going ahead with the project. That cost includes demolishing the Seven Sisters mental health facility to make room for the new Mills and then building a replacement elsewhere on the property.
Despite the prospects of a cost increase, regional property owners taxed by the North West Regional Hospital District won’t be affected.
Traditionally regional property owners can pay 40 per cent of the cost of major capital projects but in this case, the hospital district struck a deal with the province that regional property owners would not pay more than 30 per cent of a construction cost. And, crucially, the regional hospital district put a cap of $113.7 million on the amount.