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Competition opens for Island hospital construction

Jun 07 2012

The $600-million construction of two North Island hospitals is a step closer to shovels in the ground after the announcement of the first stage of a competition to find a team to design, build, finance and maintain the two hospitals.

After a request for qualifications was issued Wednesday, three teams will be short-listed and invited to submit proposals this fall.

The new hospitals will serve the health-care needs of the North Island communities for years to come, Comox Valley MLA Don McRae said in a statement.

Construction of the $266million Campbell River and District General Hospital and the $334million Comox Valley Hospital is projected for completion in 2017.

A contract is expected to be signed in the new year. The province will pay 60 per cent while the Comox-Strathcona Regional Hospital District will pay 40 per cent.

Partnerships B.C. will manage the competitive selection for the project. VIHA is seeking to sign a contract with a private partner to design, build, finance and maintain the hospitals, which are to be constructed to achieve Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, bid documents state.

Greg Baynton, chief executive officer of the Vancouver Island Construction Association, said the planned partnership with a private company is an innovative way to deliver needed projects.

Although large, possibly international companies, are well-positioned to finance and win such large contracts, there will be "lots of work" for local contractors and trades as well, he said, adding that the winning bidder will likely hire as many trades workers on the Island as possible.

Peter White, construction association board chairman, said that only larger, typically off-Island, firms can provide bonding at the levels required for such a big project.

Even so, an Island contractor may partner with a bigger player in bidding for such a project.

Once proponents are short-listed, the cost of preparing for the bid could approach $1 million on a project of this size, White said.

Materials that could be purchased on the Island would include concrete and aggregates, he said.

In March 2006, consultants hired by VIHA recommended the two aging hospitals be replaced by one new regional hospital - an idea communities resisted as they pressed for separate facilities.

The new 153-bed Comox Valley Hospital will be located adjacent to North Island College and will replace the 116-bed St. Joseph's General Hospital, which was built in 1937. The old facility will likely become a care facility.

The new 95-bed Campbell River hospital will be built on the site of a 70-bed facility built in 1956.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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