A community open house was held on March 27, 2013, at the Burns Lake Heritage Centre to reveal the design plans for the long anticipated new Lakes District hospital in Burns Lake. Michael McMillan, Northern Health chief operating officer, spoke first at the public unveiling of architectural drawings of the new facility.
“The goal is to be on site in May, and digging by June,” said McMillan.
PCL Constructors Inc. (PCL) was selected as the preferred proponent on March 12, 2013. PCL is Canada’s largest contracting company. The 100 per cent Canadian-owned company’s North American headquarters are in Edmonton, Alberta, but PCL does work on an international scale and has built 48 major medical facilities world-wide.
PCL Vice President and District Manager for B.C., Sean Brock, told the assembled crowd of about 25 that PCL strives to hire locally as much as possible, where ever a project is found.
“When we built the Prince George cancer centre we needed 50 carpentry and masonry labours,” he said. “Forty-eight of them we hired locally, and two guys were brought up from the coast as supervisors.”
The existing hospital will remain operational throughout the construction process. The new facility represents a $55 million investment in Burns Lake. It will have 16 hospital beds in private rooms, each with a window view. It will provide acute care, emergency services, diagnostic imaging, a laboratory and a pharmacy.
“It’s been a long road,” said Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad. “This will be a modern facility, one that everyone can be proud of not just in Burns Lake but across the north.”
Rustad said that there are approximately $2.3 billion worth of health care projects currently underway across the province.
Patients are anticipated to be moved in sometime in the Fall of 2015.
For Ralph Roy, Stuart Nechako Regional Hospital District chair, it has been a long time in coming.
“My wife delivered our daughter 41 years ago in Burns Lake,” said Roy. “The nurse on duty said, I can’t wait for a new hospital. Well here it is.”
Burns Lake Mayor Luke Strimbold expressed his satisfaction that a project of this size is about to get underway in Burns Lake. For him, the project represents an investment in the future of the Lakes District and will encourage young families to remain in the area.
“It is exciting as a recently elected mayor and as a young person,” said Strimbold. “When is the last time there was a $55 million investment in Burns Lake for health care? This is a reassurance for our community and for what the future holds.”