Construction of new Cowichan District Hospital hits milestone

Construction of new Cowichan District Hospital hits milestone
An announcement at the Cowichan District Hospital is shown on May 23, 2024.

The B.C. government says construction of the new Cowichan District Hospital hit a milestone on Thursday.

The hospital, first announced in 2018, was estimated to cost $350 million. Now, the project is pegged at more than $1.4 billion.

“I think the number is 1.446 billion dollars,” said B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix from North Cowichan on Thursday.

A pandemic, rising construction costs, and now, a significantly higher price tag.

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It’s not just the skyrocketing cost of the project that’s been part of the rocky road to getting here.

Jon Coleman was one of the leaders of an 11-day work stoppage at the construction site in 2022.

“We feel this is our territory. We have a right to work, and help build our hospital in this valley, and keep it local,” he said at the time.

The provincial crown corporation that oversees construction projects like this initially refused Cowichan Tribes’ economic development arm a permit to continue to work at the site.

The Green Party Leader, Sonia Furstenau, took up the cause shortly after in Question Period.  “When can John Colman and the other companies in Cowichan expect to work on the hospital that is being build on Cowichan Tribes territory?”

The health minister intervened, and the work resumed in late 2022.

READ MORE: ‘Colonialism driven by cronyism’: Opposition slams union rule barring Cowichan Tribes contractor from hospital project

Fast forward to this announcement Thursday, where the latest news is when we may finally see patients being treated here.

“We’re expecting substantial completion in the last half of 2026, and then it takes a while to transition, obviously from one hospital to another, prepare everything, so that will be in 2027,” Dix said.

With the entire community of Cowichan, and the local First Nation now on board, including opening statements from Albie Charlie, an elder with Cowichan Tribes, the hope is there will be a smoother road ahead to completion.

“It’s so exciting to come here for this celebration,” said Charlie.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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