City to request updated timeline on new hospital

Jamie Bennett
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Coun. Leo Bruce puts forward a motion at the Monday, Nov. 19, 2012 Corner Brook City Council meeting to have the city draft and send a letter to the premier requesting an update on the new regional hospital.

CORNER BROOK — If Corner Brook Coun. Leo Bruce has his way, the city should soon get an update from the provincial government about the status of the proposed new regional hospital.

Bruce put forward a motion during Monday’s regular council meeting to have the city submit a written request to Premier Kathy Dunderdale regarding an update on the project, which was announced in 2007 when the provincial government committed to building the facility.

A site near the top of Wheeler’s Road has since been selected and by 2010 much of the functional plan for the project was completed, as was road and sewer work around the site. However, progress seems to have stalled with the province committing just $1 million dollars to the project in its 2012 budget.

The motion to send a letter was passed by council and Mayor Neville Greeley agreed to send the letter to the premier.

Bruce said the public seems to be discouraged by the apparent lack of progress and many are questioning whether the hospital will be built in time for its looming 2016 original completion date.

“This was announced five years ago and last year there was only $1 million announced in engineering,” Bruce said Monday. “The only thing that’s changed in five years is that Western Memorial Regional Hospital is five years older. Five years ago it was deemed to be replaced and here we are still with nothing done other than some ground work.”

Now that the House of Assembly has reopened, he said he’s hopeful Dunderdale will be able to provide an updated timeline on the project and how government plans to bring the hospital in on budget.

For his part, Bruce said members of council met with the premier in the city over the summer, a meeting during which Dunderdale expressed concerns about the cost of the project.

“She point-blank told us as long as the new hospital’s numbers were coming in at $600M or $700M, they would not build it,” he said.

Bruce said the city had similar problems with its new water treatment plant, a project which was severely over budget until the city implemented a design-build delivery method which helped save $15 million dollars from the previous estimates from the Public Tendering Act.

According to Bruce, a similar plan — which he calls “outside-the-box” — could work in the case of the regional hospital.

“I encourage the province to do the same ... it worked for us,” he said. “I realize that’s a huge amount of money, but in saying that I have no problem ... supporting a new hospital at any cost in Corner Brook. Here’s an opportunity for the west coast of Newfoundland to achieve something that’s long overdue.”

Bruce isn’t the first local politician to question the timeline of the project.

In a Western Star story from May, Liberal MHA for the Bay of Islands Eddie Joyce questioned whether the project had been pushed behind at the expense of funding devoted to the proposed development at Muskrat Falls.

Organizations: Western Memorial Regional Hospital

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Western Star Bay of Islands Eddie Joyce

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  • Tony
    November 22, 2012 - 01:31

    I disagree with J's comment. Not just Corner Brook needs this new hospital but all of western NL needs this hospital to be built. The facility in Stephenville is certainly small in comparison to the needs of the Corner Brook region and the specialities it houses. Keep in mind most people in South western NL must use the hospital on a regular basis for certain treatments not offered at the Sir Thomas Rodrick in Stephenville. The 40 beds in the Stephenville hospital would certainly not be enough for Corner Brook and region, as I know from family living in Stephenville even the 40 bed facility is not sufficient for the Bay St. George regaion. I have had my own family moved to Corner Brook from Stephenville due to no beds available. Let us all hope the facility in Corner Brook will be a larger one compared to the current Western Memorial. The government of NL is ignoring the needs of western NL again. It is time the people of western NL pull together and support the development of the facility. It is long over due.

  • Newsreader
    November 21, 2012 - 10:29

    Tom Marshall should be getting pressed for answers on this issue as well. After all, he's our MHA for Humber East and the finance minister, so he's sufficiently informed as to why the new hospital project is not proceeding. However, I smell a muskrat, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who does. It is a matter of extremely grave concern that our tiny province is undertaking a 7.5 billion dollar hydroelectric project. But when basic infrastructure developments have to go on hold indefinitely because of it, then it's even more obvious we're into something we can't afford. At any rate, I think Tom Marshall is not being held accountable.

  • my god what happened to bruce
    November 21, 2012 - 09:14

    this fellow never said a peep for 4 years; now all of a sudden; he's eddie joyce best friend when it comes to critizicing the prov. government; who woke him up; must be election year next year; or is silent leo; looking to run for liberals in 2015 in humber east...whats up....awful strange to hear this fellow say anything other than nothing... a letter .....takes a week to type a letter for council....whats up with that

  • Foghorn Leghorn
    November 21, 2012 - 08:52

    The only hope of this hospital being built is if it is attached to the Muskrat Falls power plant, that pretty well sums it up in a nutshell!

  • Adrian
    November 21, 2012 - 07:18

    Apologies for pessimism, however at it's current rate and the proceedings of Muskrat Falls, many of Corner Brook's residents will not require health care by the time this hospital is functional. The $1M in the 2012 budget may be better spent upgrading Mt. Patricia's cemetery.

  • Shawn
    November 21, 2012 - 07:07

    “She point-blank told us as long as the new hospital’s numbers were coming in at $600M or $700M, they would not build it,” The problem here is that she didn't tell us, the tax paying residence of the area, anything of the sort. In fact Tom Marshal came out with his song and dance last spring saying everything was moving along as it should and the delay was a normal part of the planning stages of this project. He didn't once relate to the fact that they want to build a "discount store hospital" in Corner Brook. See you on election day Tom.

    • J
      November 21, 2012 - 14:30

      When the Hospital was first announced it was supposed to cost 150 million, I don't know how it got to 700 million. Kudos to Kathy for protecting the tax payers of NL. The hospital in Stephenville only cost 30 million. To make the worst of it Corner Brook don't even need the Hospital, and it's population is dwindling.

    • Shawn
      November 22, 2012 - 08:34

      Corner Brook doesn't need a hospital? J, your obviously not from this area or haven't lived here in a very long time. Corner Brook needs a new hospital and a lot more staff. I waited almost a year to get an MRI in there and many of my family members have and are being sent to Stephenville for routine things like ultra-sounds. Wait times are scandalous and everyone's health is suffering because of it. Not to mention every 2 years there is a multi-million dollar refurbishing project going on at WMRH. Some times every year. I bet they have spent 50+ million on that hospital in the past 10 years in an attempt to keep it going and meet the current needs. That hospital services the entire west coast, not just Corner Brook. Your also wrong about the numbers. It was Tom Marshal that threw out the total cost of being around 750 million while he was campaigning for re-election here. That number was fine back then when they wanted our votes, but now it's a problem. Yeah, thanks Kathy and J for spending our hospital budget to service the electrical needs of the Labrador mining corporations at discount rates.