The Grande Prairie Regional Hospital stands more than halfway complete along Highway 43/108 Street in Grande Prairie, Alta. on Monday, July 22, 2019.
Peter Shokeir / Daily Herald-Tribune
Next Monday will mark the eighth anniversary since then-Premier Ed Stelmach used a backhoe to break ground for the still unfinished Grande Prairie Regional Hospital.The $763-million facility was originally slated for completion in 2015.“Had things gone differently, the hospital would be up and running and serving the people of the Peace, which was the point,” said Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard. “Our government is committed to ensuring that happens.”“I realize that people have been waiting far too long and so this is a key priority for our government.”Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda said in a statement that construction was “progressing really well” and crews had about 30 to 40 per cent of the work left to finish. He did not provide an estimated completion date.In addition, over 400 construction workers are onsite per day with that number expected to rise as more trades are brought on.“I am confident that Clark Builders (the construction manager) will be able to deliver the hospital on schedule and within budget,” Minister Panda said.“Our government is committed to delivering key infrastructure projects like the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital that build a prosperous future and get Albertans back to work.”In June, Minister Panda along with local MLAs Allard and Travis Toews toured the hospital.“I was actually pleasantly surprised,” Allard said. “I found that there was a lot of people onsite and the second surprise for me was there was an incredibly positive work atmosphere.”She added that crews had an “aggressive schedule” towards finishing construction but warned that a “ramping-up process” for testing the hospital and training staff would have to follow before the facility could open.As for why the hospital has experienced delays, Allard said a number of factors played a role.“One of the things I can say is that I believe it was started without a functional design,” she said. “I think that was a mistake.”
Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach uses a backhoe to break ground at the construction site of the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital—known then as the Shields Health and Education Centre—on Friday, July 29, 2011 across the street from the Grande Prairie Regional College.
Aaron Hinks /
First announced in 2007, the project began with the goal of providing patients in northwestern Alberta with specialized and complex care closer to home with shorter wait times. The new hospital is expected to have eight operating rooms and 239 beds, compared to 161 beds at the existing Queen Elizabeth II Hospital on the east side of Grande Prairie.Due to concerns over the project’s timeline and budget, the former NDP government announced last September the termination of its contract with Graham Construction as construction manager. Work was temporarily suspended before the province hired Clark Builders as the replacement.Over 90 per cent of the previous subcontractors under Graham are currently back on the job.“That, to me, is a real bridge because that was a huge concern when I was running in the election was all the contractors in the community that hadn’t been paid,” Allard said.The province has been accused of owing a collective $60 million to 26 subcontractors for work on the hospital.The Alberta Court of Queens Bench has since ordered a payment of $13 million and another of $10 million to subcontractors from $30 million in court-held government funds.“When I’ve spoken to individual contractors who have been more adversely affected, it’s very positive for them,” Allard said regarding these payments.Once the hospital is complete, Allard said she wants the province to use this project as a case study in order to prevent other Albertan infrastructure projects from undergoing similar issues.“We always have to find a silver lining and that, for me, is the silver lining,” Allard said. “I’m sad that it’s the eighth anniversary but I’m also looking to the future and excited to see that day when we cut the ribbon and we get people in there.”