Northern Health is hoping to have the first step of a planning process to develop a new healthcare facility finished by the end of the year.
At their Nov. 12 meeting, Smithers Town Council received a letter from president and chief executive officer with the healthcare provider Cathy Ulrich.
“We anticipate that the master planning process will conclude by the end of 2019,” the letter reads.
Once the master planning process has been completed the next step is concept planning.
“A concept plan describes the issues, outlines the needs, assesses cost, site logistics, and procurement options,” Ulrich wrote.
After that, the next step is a business plan.
This final planning phase presents a detailed analysis of the project and includes service demands, service delivery, operational needs, financials, procurement, detailed space needs, site requirements and other details upon which government can base its decision to proceed with a healthcare facility.
“These phases will proceed once the Ministry of Health provides direction to move to the next phase of planning work,” the letter continued.
It also noted if the project proceeds to the concept and business planning stages Northern Health will be establishing formal advisory committee structures to further enable municipal participation.”
The Town will have a further opportunity to meet with Northern Health to discuss the process at the North Central Local Government Association Convention scheduled for May 13-15 in Prince George.
Northern Health health service administrator Cormac Hikisch for BVDH has previously told The Interior News it could still be a decade or so before a new hospital would be fully completed and open to the public.
“When I’ve asked about this myself … in their experience it’s typically a seven-to-12 year range in terms of where they’ve seen projects that are starting this first step moving to full completion.”
Hikisch points to Terrace’s Mills Memorial Hospital, which is just now moving from their business planning stage to construction, as an example of the time frame associated with such projects.
“They’ve been at that for seven, eight years now,” he said.
Assuming development continues, the plan is to build the hospital on the same property as the current BVDH.
The current hospital would continue operating adjacent to the construction site until the new one was built so as not to suspend critical health service to the area.
The BVDH officially opened its doors Sep. 1, 1920.