The Ministry of Health has taken a critical step toward construction of a new acute-care tower at Lions Gate Hospital, which is now coming with a much higher price tag.
The province announced Wednesday that it had awarded the design-build contract for the expansion project to PCL Constructors West Coast Inc.
In a release, Health Minister Adrian Dix said this brings the project one major step closer to “shovels in the ground.” Construction is set to begin in the middle of 2021.
“Our government is proud to move forward on our promise to British Columbians to deliver a new tower at LGH so that residents on the North Shore can access state-of-the-art, quality public health care,” Dix said in the release.
The expected costs for the hospital expansion have almost doubled in a year. Dix announced in August 2020 that the ministry was kicking in an extra $88 million, bringing the total budget from $166 million to $254 million. As of Wednesday’s release, the province now says it is a $310-million project.
“Material and labour costs are higher than originally estimated, particularly for mechanical, electrical, structural and building envelope and finishes,” a statement from the ministry read. “The renovations component cost has increased to incorporate the relocation of the bulk oxygen tank farm and anticipated increased costs for hazardous materials remediation.”
The new facility will feature 108 single-patient rooms with ensuite bathrooms, eight new operating rooms, a new pre-operative and post-operative care area (including anesthesia intervention and isolation rooms), a telehealth centre and a primary care centre to give residents without a family doctor faster access to non-acute services.
The six-storey building will occupy the site of the former Activation Building/North Vancouver General Hospital, which was demolished in 2017.
North Vancouver-Seymour MLA Susie Chant, also a registered nurse team leader within VCH, welcomed the update.
“I absolutely recognize the need for new and enhanced services to meet growing needs. This is a much-needed improvement to health care here and to all the regional areas this hospital supports, and I'm proud to be a part of the progress," she said.
The budget for the project is shared between the province, Vancouver Coastal Health and the Lions Gate Hospital Foundation, which raised $100 million. When it opens, the new tower will be named for Paul Myers, a North Shore plumber turned businessman and philanthropist who personally contributed $25 million to the campaign.
"This is a very exciting step forward for our community and one that comes down to generosity of spirit," said Judy Savage, president and CEO of the LGH Foundation. "We're so grateful to Paul Myers for his inspirational lead gift, which served as a catalyst in rallying together the more than 6,400 members of our community who so generously supported our campaign to build the new tower at LGH."
North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma said she is grateful for the private donors who have helped make the new wing a reality.
"This pandemic has brought to light how important it is for our communities to have access to high-quality health-care facilities," she said. "The Paul Myers Tower has been made possible through generous community contributions as well as provincial government investments and will be a testament to our collective commitment to delivering better care for British Columbians."
The targeted completion date is fall 2024.
Richmond-based PCL Constructors West Coast is the firm behind the expansion of Vancouver International Airport and the heritage revitalization project of the former Canada Post depot in downtown Vancouver.
With 254 beds, eight operating rooms and a variety of diagnostic services and equipment, Lions Gate is the fourth-busiest hospital in the Vancouver area, according to the ministry.