Calgary

Calgary cancer centre to be at Foothills hospital, announces health minister

The provincial government announced this morning that the long-awaited Calgary cancer centre will be built at Foothills hospital.

Government moving forward with 'aggressive timeline,' says health minister

Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman scheduled a media conference on Wednesday to give an update on plans for a new cancer centre in Calgary. (CBC)

Alberta's NDP government announced this morning that the long-awaited Calgary cancer care centre will be built at the Foothills hospital, as originally planned by the previous Progressive Conservative government.

Exactly where the new facility will be built on the site has yet to be determined, but the government is looking at several different options, said Health Minister Sarah Hoffman. That includes one of the original plans at the existing parkade site, facing 29th Street N.W. or potentially another parking area, said Hoffman.

One of the proposed sites at Foothills hospital for the new cancer centre is where the parking structure now sits at 29th Street N.W. (CBC)

She said a final decision on the centre's location will be announced this fall once the results of geo-technical tests are completed.

Besides cost and convenience for cancer patients, families and health-care workers, the government believes it's important "to have everything under one roof."

With more than 80 per cent of cancer surgeries being done at Foothills, Hoffman said it's best to take advantage of the existing facilities and services already on the site.

"We will have a comprehensive cancer facility 100 per cent at Foothills," she said, while other sites didn't offer the same assurances.

The government is still working towards the original timeline announced by the previous government, which called for construction to being in 2015 or 2016 and to be completed by 2020.

Project planning has already begun, the minister said.

"We are working on a very aggressive timeline."

Cancer centre a high priority for fall budget

The original price tag of $1.3 billion was floated by the previous government, but Hoffman said they will be expecting construction bids to be competitive since the economy is different than when the project was first put forward.

"We want to make sure we're getting the best value for taxpayers."

The government wants the project to be a high priority in the fall budget.

With recent reports there will be a 60 per cent increase in cancer rates in the next 15 years, "the time to act is now," said Hoffman.

Cancer is by far the leading cause of premature death in Alberta. Nearly 16,400 Albertans are diagnosed with cancer and more than 5,500 people die from it each year, according to the province.

 "We know that we know we need to build this facility not just for Calgarians but for Albertans, and we're moving forward." 

Meanwhile, the Alberta PC party issued a press release saying the northwest location is the wrong choice.

"The Foothills Medical Centre site is difficult to access for patients driving from southern Alberta because it is several kilometres away from major highways. The South Health Campus, by contrast, would have been accessible to Albertans inside and outside of Calgary by public transit and the Calgary ring road."

Before losing the provincial election, the PC government had announced that cancer patients in Calgary were getting new cancer treatment centres at two sites — including the South Health Campus.

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