Officials broke ground on the new Surrey hospital on Tuesday with costs already more than a billion dollars over budget and a completion date two years later than planned.
Surrey’s second hospital will cost $2.88 billion, well above the $1.72 billion projected when the project was announced last year. Construction is expected to be complete in 2029 instead of 2027, which means it will be 2030 before patients can be treated at the hospital.
B.C. United leader Kevin Falcon said he “can’t even get his head around” how the cost ballooned by a billion dollars before construction has even started.
Premier David Eby, speaking at a new conference Tuesday at the hospital site, said public and private projects have been hit by rising costs due to labour shortages and pricier supplies and materials.
Faced with the higher-than-expected bid, Eby said the government could have waited in the hopes that prices would come down. Eby threw in a dig at Falcon, who previously represented the Surrey-Cloverdale riding and was a cabinet minister in the former B.C. Liberal government which promised in 2005 to build a new Surrey hospital, saying: “That decision has been made before and had we built the hospital back when it was originally promised, it would probably cost a quarter of what it costs today.”
Surrey’s hospital system has been under strain with doctors sounding the alarm about overcrowding and understaffing at Surrey Memorial Hospital and the effect on patient safety.
The hospital, which will be built at 5500-180th St. next to Kwantlen Polytechnic University, will include 168 beds, a surgical and peri-operative centre with five operating rooms, four procedure rooms and an emergency department with 55 spaces. It will have a large medical imaging department with three CT scanners and two MRI machines, a pharmacy, lab and academic spaces.
The hospital’s cancer centre will include an oncology ambulatory care unit with 50 exam rooms, 54 chemotherapy treatment spaces, and room for six linear accelerators for radiation therapy.
In May, the province announced new cancer care centres for Surrey, Kamloops, Nanaimo and Burnaby in an attempt to address the backlogs that have forced some prostate and breast cancer patients to travel to Bellingham, Wash. for radiation therapy.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said the hospital will have the capacity to do more than 28,000 surgical procedures, 280,000 medical-imaging exams and 120,000 emergency department visits a year.
Ellis-Don Design Build has been selected as the contractor to complete the design and construction.
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