Crews clear a site near Mills Memorial hospital to accommodate construction of the proposed new hospital building. (Binny Paul/Terrace Standard)

VIDEO: Early works underway at Mills Memorial build site

Trees being cleared in anticipation of construction

There may not be an official announcement yet as to a final go ahead of the Mills Memorial Hospital replacement project, but early works are now underway to prepare the location for construction.

Crews moved in this week, first logging then limbing and then piling slash for what will be a projected $447.5 million project to replace the current aging structure with one roughly double the size and to provide a new and larger Seven Sisters mental health residence.

Sarah Artis, Northern Health’s Terrace-based public relations official attached to the project, said crews were falling what she termed “hazard trees from the wooded area behind Mills Memorial Hospital, which will increase public safety.”

Heenan Tree Services is doing the falling while Triton Environmental has people onsite to “ensure minimal impact to the local environment and wildlife,” she said.

Neither the provincial government nor the Northern Health Authority have acknowledged that they are negotiating final details with multi-national PCL Construction but planning and other documents released indicate that early financial assurances have been given to a company.

Based on original construction timetables, a final contract was to have been signed by now with work already underway.

The existing Seven Sisters facility will be torn down to make room for the new Mills and a replacement will then be built elsewhere on the property. When the new Mills is finished, the current one will be demolished and a parking lot built in its place.

The new Mills will have 78 inpatient beds, up from the current 44, an increase that will see eight instead of three intensive care unit beds and a doubling of the regional psychiatric unit from 10 beds to 20 beds.

Along with more hospital beds, the emergency room will double in size from 10 treatment spaces to 20 and there will be four operating rooms, an increase of one. The new Seven Sisters will have 25 beds, five more than now.

The $447.5 million budget includes $18 million of that will be for the new Seven Sisters.

The cost will be shared between the provincial government through Northern Health and the North West Regional Hospital District, which is contributing $110.2 million through regional property taxation.