Neville Greeley says he understands the approach the province is taking to ensure the hospital is affordable, both in terms of its construction and subsequent operation.
Tuesday, Eddie Joyce, the Bay of Islands Liberal MHA, issued a press release claiming there are further delays in the project. He filed a freedom of information request on letters between the premier’s office and the City of Corner Brook.
Joyce said, six years after provincial government officials announced they would build a new regional hospital in Corner Brook, the project still hasn’t reached the design stage.
Greeley, who wrote Premier Kathy Dunderdale in November requesting an update on its status, said he takes no issue with the province undergoing a second engineering process. The mayor said the city itself sacrificed a two-year delay on the construction of its water treatment facility — a process he said saved taxpayers $15 million.
“I can understand the concern of some in relation to time passing by,” Greeley said, adding that if the province can save millions of dollars and still build what the people of this region need in a hospital, it will be worthwhile.
“That’s a bit of short-term pain for long-term gain.”
Greeley fully expects the province to live up to its commitment, and will wait on the results of the engineering and design work to see what exactly the hospital will entail.
“I can understand the concern of some in relation to time passing by ... That’s a bit of short-term pain for long-term gain.” - Corner Brook Mayor Neville Greeley
Meanwhile, Joyce is drawing his own conclusions from the letters.
“It’s now evident that government has reneged on its commitment to the people of western Newfoundland and, instead of starting construction as promised, they haven’t even finalized the design of the hospital,” he said in a prepared statement. “Instead, government has hired a second engineering firm to refine the pre-design work that was already completed.”
According to Joyce, the letter from Health Minister Susan Sullivan to the City of Corner Brook says government is “currently working to review and refine the master program to reflect best practices.”
“Is this what the premier was referring to when she told city council they would need to scale-back the project?” Joyce said.
The project is no closer to being built now than it was two years ago, the Liberal MHA claims. About a year ago in the House of Assembly, Joyce asked Sullivan for a timeframe for the completion of the design. He said that question is still unanswered.
“It now appears that government has no plans on starting construction for a new hospital in Corner Brook this year, despite the concerns of the city and people in the region,” he said.