Editorial: A $430 million hospital?

CAN A new Mills Memorial Hospital for northwestern B.C. really cost $430 million?

CAN A new Mills Memorial Hospital really cost $430 million?

That’s the one essential question local residents need to ask themselves as the effort continues toward what would be the second-largest public sector project in the region’s history, second only to B.C. Hydro’s Northwest Transmission Line.

So far it’s a question which remains unanswered. The $430 million figure surfaced via the North West Regional Hospital District in information released as it builds momentum toward a new Mills.

The figure originates with the Northern Health Authority which commissioned a still-unreleased concept plan which was subsequently sent to the health ministry. Concept plans are just that, a broad outline, a starting point, and far from a detailed examination of the construction costs and, just as critical, the costs of the services to be offered.

Still, that $430 million has to mean something. Now thanks to a nudge from Premier Christy Clark (no doubt a move to turn down the heat from what should be an issue leading to next May’s provincial election) she’s put in motion the steps toward a business plan which will provide that vital information.

A business plan is not a guarantee of construction and while the one for Mills could take a year to complete, it will provide a vision as to how $430 million might be spent to meet the health needs of northwestern B.C. citizens.