Calgary cancer centre to be built at northeast corner of Foothills hospital site

Calgary's new cancer centre will be built at the northeast corner of the Foothills Medical Centre, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced on Wednesday.

Premier Rachel Notley says construction is set to start in 2017 for projected 2024 completion

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says a new cancer centre will be built at the northeast corner of the Foothills hospital campus. (CBC)

Calgary's new cancer centre will be built at the northeast corner of the Foothills Medical Centre, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced on Wednesday.

The provincial budget unveiled on Tuesday earmarks $830 million for the project — one that cancer treatment advocates have long lobbied for.

"Today has been too long in the making, but today we are making it right," Notley said. 

"The decisions have been made, there will be no more dithering on this." 

The province now projects an opening date of 2024 — a delay from the previously announced date of 2020. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2017.

The Calgary Cancer Centre will replace the Tom Baker Cancer Centre and will provide more inpatient beds and additional patient services, the province said in a release. 

The leading-edge centre will be built on Lot 7 of the Foothills hospital campus, near the intersection of 16th Avenue and 29th Street N.W.

The new cancer centre is being built in the area marked in red in this image, at the northeast corner of the Foothills hospital campus in northwest Calgary. (Government of Alberta)

Earlier plan revised

An earlier plan would have seen it built on the site of the parkade adjacent to 29th Street N.W. next to the existing Tom Baker Cancer Centre, which the premier said has been stretched beyond its capacity for more than a decade. 

The final cost of the project will be tallied when the project is tendered.

Wildrose health critic Drew Barnes welcomed the announcement as a key infrastructure project but questioned whether the province has allocated enough money for it.

"By the government's own numbers, the Calgary Cancer Centre has only been costed to fiscal year 2019-2020," Barnes said in a release.

"That creates a funding gap of three years that has not been included in the $830 million price tag. In order for Albertans to get the best value for our infrastructure dollars, we need to have full information on the costs, the plan and the firm timeline for these projects."

Announcement welcomed

But the advocacy group Concerned Citizens for a Calgary Cancer Centre applauded Wednesday's announcement.

"We are extremely hopeful and very excited that the government understands that infrastructure, and health infrastructure particularly for cancer patients in southern Alberta, is extremely important," said Heather Culbert, co-founder of the group.

"I think the patients should feel good about the fact that we will have a shovel in the ground, there is a commitment, and we ... are going to help get the process moving a little faster."

Every day about 43 Albertans are diagnosed with cancer and that rate is expected to rise in the coming years, according to AHS Vice President and Medical Director Dr. Francois Belanger.


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