Royal Inland Hospital tower planning to begin

Planning will be completed between the summer and winter of 2016 says Health Minister

Bird Construction superintendent Darren Purdy (left) shows Health Minister Terry Lake (centre) and Transportation Minister Todd Stone the progress on the clinical-services building at Royal Inland Hospital.

Bird Construction superintendent Darren Purdy (left) shows Health Minister Terry Lake (centre) and Transportation Minister Todd Stone the progress on the clinical-services building at Royal Inland Hospital.

By Andrea Klassen

Kamloops This Week

The new clinical-services building at Royal Inland Hospital won’t open for another year, but the province is already gearing up for the next phase of improvements at the hospital.

Health Minister and Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake announced Friday that work on a business case for a patient-care tower will soon begin.

The Interior Health Authority will chip in 60 per cent of the $1.9 million allotted for the planning, with the Thompson-Nicola Regional District bringing $800,000 to the table.

The announcement comes about a year before the hospital’s newest building — which includes four levels of parking in addition to clinical space — will open to the public.

Construction on the nearly $80-million building fronting Columbia Street began in the spring of 2014.

Lake told media the second phase of the project has an estimated price tag of between $200 and $240 million, but the IHA will have a better idea of costs once a business case is complete.

The planning will also pinpoint what will be in the tower, though it will likely include additional operating rooms and surgical-care space.

Planning will be completed between the summer and winter of 2016, Lake said.

A construction date is less clear at this stage.

“It’s hard to predict if we can get into the ground right away with the time of year, etcetera, but I’m really optimistic we can get moving this forward in a timely way,” Lake said.

“Obviously, we’d like to get this going sooner rather than later.”

The TNRD must still approve its portion of funding for the business case this week, but Mayor Peter Milobar said he expects to see the board support the project, for which it has been compiling a reserve of tax dollars over the past three years.

Milobar said planning now for the next phase of hospital improvements will cut down on the lag time between construction projects.

“I think people have finally started to get really excited about the health improvements we’ve seen here in Kamloops and these dollars are critical to take that next step,” he said.