Edmonton

Construction complete on $850M Grande Prairie Regional Hospital

Construction on the long-awaited 240-bed Grande Prairie Regional Hospital is now complete and commissioning work that will make the facility fully operational is set to begin, Premier Jason Kenney said Friday.

240-bed facility could open by end of summer 2021, provincial officials say

Construction of the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital was officially completed Friday, June 26, 2020. (Government of Alberta )

Construction on the long-awaited 240-bed Grande Prairie Regional Hospital is now complete and commissioning work that will make the facility fully operational is set to begin, Premier Jason Kenney said Friday.

"Today's announcement was nearly a decade in the making and that is way too long for any infrastructure project," Kenney told a news conference in the northwestern Alberta city.

"So let me begin by thanking the citizens and public officials of the Grande Prairie region for your amazing patience."

The $850-million facility, described by Kenney as "the most technologically advanced hospital in Alberta," was announced in 2007 by then-premier Ed Stelmach. Construction started in 2011 but hit many hurdles along the way.

Alberta Infrastructure, which has been overseeing construction, will hand the facility over to Alberta Health Services on July 1.

Work will then shift to addressing minor deficiencies and starting the operational commissioning process, which will include equipment installation and staff training.

It's hoped the commissioning process will be completed by the end of summer 2021, Alberta Infrastructure and Alberta Health said in a news release, cautioning that COVID-19 pandemic may affect the timing of the commissioning work.

The 681,000-square-foot hospital will provide a range of health-care services including surgery, cancer care, emergency services and mental health services. It will also have a health-care training facility in partnership with Grande Prairie Regional College.

Years behind schedule

The facility was expected to be operational by late 2018. In 2015, the province said the project was $89 million over budget and two years behind schedule.

In 2018, the province dismissed contractor Graham Construction and halted construction, saying the mitigation plan submitted by the company was not sufficient.

Graham Construction publicly disputed the province's claims and blamed it for construction overruns and delays. A court order later mandated Alberta to pay nearly $13 million to subcontractors involved. 

In late 2018, Edmonton-based Clark Builders was hired to take over the project and bring it to completion. Clark Builders finished the job about three months ahead of its own construction schedule, the government said.

Large infrastructure projects are key elements of the government's efforts to recover from the economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kenney said Friday.

"One of the biggest feature of our recovery strategy, as I have said, is that we are not going to let any major infrastructure project, public or private, drag on like this one did," he said.

"We are going through Alberta's overgrown forest of job-killing red tape and regulation with a buzz saw. And we are going to get our economy moving at the speed of business, not of bureaucracy."

Kenney said the new hospital will provide employment for about 1,500 health-care workers, an increase of about 500 for the region.

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