The multi-national construction company which is negotiating a final contract to build the $447.5 million replacement for Mills Memorial Hospital, along with a new Seven Sisters mental health facility, has begun moving equipment and machinery to the construction site.
PCL Construction, the company which the provincial government and the Northern Health Authority so far hasn’t acknowledged as the prime contractor, has already signed early works financial agreements sufficient for it to prepare for construction between the current Mills and the Sande Overpass.
Actual work, however, will not begin until that final financial agreement, called a design-build agreement, has been signed.
Recent minutes of a local committee struck to provide advice to Northern Health indicate that the final agreement is now before the provincial Treasury Board made up of senior cabinet ministers awaiting a final decision and that late May and early June is the target time for construction to start.
Based on a start according to those available timelines, the new Mills will be finished in Dec. 2025. Demolition of the old hospital and landscaping will be finished in Nov. 2026.
There’ll be construction activity 11 hours a day every day of the week so as to speed completion, a request made by the contractor and granted by city council.
First to be built will be a new Seven Sisters at 25 beds, five more than the current one. That’s because the current Seven Sisters needs to be demolished to make room for the new Mills.
Although a final agreement has not been announced, PCL has already secured an initial permit on behalf of Northern Health for the construction of a foundation, pegging the value of this work at $18.224 million.
A full building permit is scheduled to be granted this fall, indicates a memo from city development services director David Block prepared for council.
And the city has already struck a deal to improve the stretch of Haugland that runs along the southern border of the hospital property.
The current narrow asphalt surface, which has been in poor repair for years, is to be widened to nine metres as required by a city bylaw and will be accompanied by a concrete curb and gutter and storm drainage at a projected cost of $104,394 to be covered by the developer.
The new Mills will be roughly twice the size of the current facility which was built in 1959 and which is considered well past its prime.
From the current 44 beds, the new Mills will have 78 beds in different departments.
The main medical ward is to increase to 36 beds from the current 24, five new beds will make up a northwest orthopedic ward by consolidating that service from other facilities, the intensive card ward will be eight beds, up from the current five, and the regional psychiatric unit will double in size from 10 beds to 20 beds.
Instead of rooms containing four beds and inadequate washrooms, patients will now have their own rooms, meeting a standard that’s now accepted in other new hospitals.
Plans also call for a doubling of the emergency department from 10 to 20 treatment spaces and four operating rooms, up from three.
Still to be revealed is the size of the workforce, who will be hired and for those workers from out of town, where they will be living.
Projections provided by PCL and made available in the company search for workforce camp locations, indicate as many as 350 outside people will be needed during the course of the multi-year construction project.
The company has been looking at sites at the Skeena Industrial Development Park, just off Hwy37 south of the Northwest Regional Airport.