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No delay expected to construct Comox Valley hospital

Here
Here's the first real glimpse of how the new Comox Valley hospital will be laid out.
— image credit: Vancouver Island Health Authority

The City of Courtenay's rezoning process shouldn't bump the construction timeline of the new Comox Valley Hospital off track, according to the Vancouver Island Health Authority.
"I have no concerns at all," said VIHA project director Grant Hollett as he presented council with an in-depth report on the Comox Valley Hospital project Monday. "Our timeframe, as long as we can have zoning review, zoning process run it's course before the end of this calendar year, that will align very nicely with our anticipated timelines."
According to Hollett, a rezoning application for land at the corner of Lerwick and Ryan roads will be submitted to the City in June. Public consultation, which includes a public hearing, open houses and information session, is estimated to start in June and run through to September or October. Hollett said VIHA hopes to have rezoning of the land finished by late fall.
City director of planning services Peter Crawford noted 11 acres of land will come from North Island College, and 2.37 will come from Courtenay. Both properties must be rezoned, but the rezoning process will be tied together in one application.
Hollett confirmed VIHA accepts the city's proposed price for the land — which is $8.67 per square foot or $895,822 in total — though no sales agreement has officially been signed yet.
The City-owned land is a playing field along Lerwick Road to the north of the NIC land.
City director of community services Randy Wiwchar explained the City could not talk to the sports field user groups before the chosen hospital site was announced, but will now discuss options with them. The estimated date to vacate the field is mid-2014.
Hollett presented an indicative design of the new hospital, but noted the finished design will likely look different. The design will be used in the design competition during 2012 and 2013, and competitors will be asked to improve the design as part of their bid for the work.
The request for proposals process is expected to start early next year, according to Hollett. Premier Christy Clark had said she hoped to have shovels in the ground by early 2013 when she announced the project at the end of April, and Hollett confirmed site preparation is expected to start at this time.
However, actual construction of the hospital is scheduled for late 2013 or early 2014 after a contractor is selected by the North Island Hospitals Project Board.
Hollett confirmed the company will likely be international because of the size and complexity of the project, including a financial foundation necessary to procure a project of this size.
"So financial, construction experience, the architectural knowledge, the clinical knowledge that's required to select the right proponent, and the track record as well as the attitude they have to recognizing how important hospitals are to local communities and the local economy," said Hollett, adding, "and well-connected in the system in terms of trades and skills they need to deliver a project such as this on time and on schedule."
Crawford noted the location of a new East Courtenay Fire Hall and Training site — which was slated for 2015 in the city's 2012 to 2016 Financial Plan — will likely become a staging area for hospital construction, as it will be on the north side of Home Depot, behind the Courtenay Substation from Lerwick Road. The three acres chosen for the Fire Hall and Training site are City-owned land.
The Comox Valley hospital project is expected to be complete by early 2017.
For more information, visit VIHA's North Island Hospitals Project webpage at www.viha.ca or the City of Courtenay's webpage at www.courtenay.ca/hospitalproject.
writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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