Costs at the new Cowichan District Hospital have skyrocketed to $1.45 billion. (Citizen file photo)

Costs at the new Cowichan District Hospital have skyrocketed to $1.45 billion. (Citizen file photo)

Costs of new Cowichan hospital increase to $1.45 billion

Government says cost increase related mostly to labour shortages and supply-chain challenges

The cost of the Cowichan Valley’s new hospital has ballooned to $1.45 billion from the previous estimate of $887 million, a 63 per cent increase.

That information was included in Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s financial update for the province that was released last week.

When the new hospital, which is Island health’s No. 1 capital priority, was first envisioned almost 10 years ago, it was estimated at the time that it would cost approximately $350 million to build.

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Robinson said that the dramatic increase in the cost of the new Cowichan District Hospital, where site work has begun on Bell McKinnon Road, is mainly due to supply chain challenges and labour shortages.

She also said the increase in costs will also delay the scheduled completion date of the hospital to 2027 from 2026.

A statement from the ministry said the same factors impacting public and private sector projects have affected the new hospital, which will replace the aging facility on Gibbins Road.

The statement said that the majority of the cost increase ($488 million) is due to changes in market conditions and increased construction costs due to global inflation, labour shortages and ongoing global supply chain disruptions, and costs related to an increase in the size of the hospital to ensure enough space is available for important health services and the safe flow of patients.

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“The remaining $70 million is related to owner cost increases, including furniture and medical equipment, IM/IT, and procurement costs,” the statement said.

“Our goal with this project is to build a facility that will meet the acute care needs of the people who will be using it for the next several decades.”

The existing CDH was opened in 1967 and has 134 acute inpatient beds.

Since the hospital’s opening, the Valley’s population has more than doubled, and is expected to grow by another 20 per cent over the next few decades.

The new hospital is anticipated to be at least 496,000 square feet, nearly three times larger than the current facility, and plans are for it to include 201 acute inpatient beds.

The new hospital’s emergency department is planned to triple in size and accommodate 42,000 visits a year, while the number of treatment spaces will increase from 17 to 36, with two trauma bays, rapid access and discharge space, fast-track streaming space and a dedicated acute psychiatric space with two seclusion rooms.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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