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Hospital expansion costs climb, may now be $100 million project

Cost of the project appears to have doubled
The cost of upgrades to the Dawson Creek Hospital have risen as it winds its way through the approval process. File Photo

As the expansion to the Dawson Creek and District Hospital inches its way through government, the cost of the project appears to have doubled. Initial estimates given by Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier shortly before voters cast their ballots in the 2013 provincial election pegged the cost at $50 million. 

New estimates from the Peace River Regional Hospital District’s (PRRHD) chief financial officer Kim Frech put the project at $100 million. Frech said in an email to the Dawson Creek Mirror that the regional district would pay for 40 per cent of the project. 

The final tally for the hospital expansion won’t be known until a decision is made on which design for the expansion will go forward, according to Northern Health. The options on the table have yet to be made publicly available. 

“We have submitted a concept plan for the (hospital) to the province,” Northern Health spokesperson Jonathon Dyck said. This was done in 2015, following on the health authority’s master planning completed in 2014. 

“The next step is the business plan,” Dyck added, saying the project is a top priority for Northern Health. 

The Ministry of Health confirmed that until the business case is completed it is hard to say how much the expansion will cost. 

“A more detailed estimate of (the) project’s budget comes in the business plan phase and is based on design,” a spokesperson for the ministry told the Mirror. 

The PRRHD’s 2016 draft financial plan sets aside $9.5 million in reserves this year, bringing the regional hospital board’s savings up to a total of $40.9 million. The budget notes some of those reserve dollars are earmarked for the hospital expansion. The draft financial plan has not yet received approval from the board. It has been delayed due to “additional research and work required,” according to minutes from a March 24 meeting. 

 “We need this,” Bernier said of the hospital renovations in Dawson Creek. 

“I am going to keep working on it. In the last election I said I would work towards this happening in my first term. Is it going to be started before the next election? No. But my goal is to make sure it stays on the radar.” 

The renovations have been a topic for discussion dating back to when Bernier was mayor of Dawson Creek. 

 A year after the 2013 election, Bernier told the Alaska Highway News that “anyone who understands how the system works and how long it takes to maneuver through this, (realizes) that we’re not going to have a brand-new building by next election.”