The Cowichan Valley Regional Hospital District will spend up to $5.36 million to prepare a business plan for Cowichan Valley’s new hospital.
The CVRHD approved the expense at its meeting on Aug. 8, and the funding for the business plan will come from district’s reserves that have been set aside for the new hospital.
The CVRHD is responsible to pay for 40 per cent of the hospital, which is now estimated to cost approximately $600 million, and the province will pick up the rest of the tab.
Funding for the business plan will come from the 40 per cent of the project the district will pay.
CVRHD chairman Jon Lefebure said $5.36 million might seem like a lot for a business plan, but board members have visited the new hospitals that have been built in Comox and Campbell River and realized the amount of work involved in planning and preparation.
Among the many objectives of the business plan is to plan the scope of the facility, its budget and procurement methods.
“These facilities are incredibly complex and involve new design elements, so a lot of planning is required,” Lefebure said.
“Island Health will be the manager of the project and they have the resources to do much of the business plan, but they will have to bring in some outside experience for some aspects of preparing for the project, including geo-technical designs, that they don’t have in-house.”
Premier John Horgan announced on July 6 that the Cowichan Valley will have a new hospital built and ready for service by 2024.
Horgan said at the time that the concept plan for the new hospital, which is expected to be much larger than the aging Cowichan District Hospital, with more beds and health services, had been approved and the business plan for the project should be completed within 12 to 18 months.
He said construction of the new hospital, which will be constructed on Bell McKinnon Road, should begin soon after the business plan is complete.
Lefebure said the $600 million estimate for the hospital project is very preliminary at this stage, and the business plan will produce a more accurate costing of the new facility when it is completed.
But he said, based on the $600 million estimate, the district would be responsible to come up with approximately $240 million for the construction of the new hospital.
Lefebure said the district has managed to place $43 million in reserves for the project during the last eight years.
He said the district plans to begin placing approximately $10 million a year, the most yet, into the reserves for hospital construction over the next few years, and, in theory, the district should be able to pay the interest for the rest of the funding, which will have to be borrowed, from reserves.
The construction of a new hospital for the Valley has been considered to be Island Health’s number-one capital priority for years.
The Cowichan District Hospital was opened in 1967, and has 134 beds.
But since the hospital’s opening, the Valley’s population has more than doubled, and is expected to grow by another 20 per cent during the next few decades.