‘Concept planning’ for a new Surrey hospital is underway

It’s a first step in planning for a hospital here

Concept planning for a new hospital in Surrey is underway.

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced on Monday at Surrey City Hall that the provincial government is taking the first step in planning for a new hospital in the city.

While information on a budget or location were not part of the announcement, Dix said the government is entering the concept planning stage, which could take up to a year to complete.

“It’s a significant review process,” said Dix. “Once the concept plan is approved, we start with the business plan and then we go ahead with building the hospital.”

Dix estimates that the concept planning and review process will cost $3 million.

“The reason we wanted to announce this now is because we wanted to get started. The sooner the concept planning process ends, the sooner we can start building.”

When asked about a rough estimate for the cost of the hospital, Dix said a number is yet to be determined.

“I’m not going to predict that today,” he said. “We’re proceeding with the concept plan, it’s fully funded, and we’re going to take it seriously.”

Overall timelines for the hospital project would vary depending on each stage of completion, with new hospital builds ranging from between six to 10 years from concept plan to project completion, according to Dix.

“Surrey Memorial Hospital delivers first-class health care, but we recognize with a rapidly growing community that access to this care is becoming difficult for a great number of people,” Dix stated.

Dix has a few ideas on what specifically needs to improve in terms of health care in Surrey.

“There are about 90,000 people in Surrey without a family doctor. It is a significant number for one community and we have to improve primary care moving forward,” he said.

“Our focus right now while we build the hospital is improving pediatric care and, of course, mental health and addiction issues.

“Those are the key things that I’m locked in on.”

The concept plan, to be funded by the Ministry of Health and Fraser Health, is a first step in planning for a hospital.

“It lays out the need for a specific project and identifies potential locations,” according to a government release. “Concept planning is a key part of the process that ensures that the needs of the community are identified and addressed.”

Dix said while the bill will fall on taxpayers, no changes to municipal or provincial taxes came with this announcement.

“Ultimately, it’s taxpayers who pay for it,” Dix said. “It’s a dramatically good deal in Canada compared to elsewhere in the world.”

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said she welcomed “this first step” by the provincial government to bring a new hospital to Surrey.

“The staff at Surrey Memorial Hospital do an incredible job in caring for our community, but they are clearly stretched,” Hepner said.

“With the growth Surrey is experiencing, a new hospital is clearly needed if we are to ensure our residents have timely access to medical care and services.”

Hepner also applauded the timing of the provincial government’s announcement.

“I’m delighted that in such an early stage of their government, they recognized the need early on and they’re willing to put pen to paper to get started and spend the millions of dollars to get it there,” Hepner said.

“I look forward to the discussion of where the hospital will be located, and the kinds of distinct care that it will offer going forward.”

Councillor Bruce Hayne commented on potential locations for the hospital, mentioning Panorama and Cloverdale as potential options.

Previously, there was land in Panorama to build a hospital, but it ended up being sold to developers, he added.

Hayne, a Cloverdale resident, makes a case for Cloverdale as an option.

“There’s certainly a growing community, there’s land, and the closest hospital to them is Langley Memorial Hospital,” Hayne said.

Chairman of the board for Fraser Health Jim Sinclair said although the concept planning process will take time, it’s vital to make sure the hospital is as efficient as possible.

“If we’re going to invest hundreds of millions of dollars, we have to make sure we’re getting the most out of that dollar.”

With files from Tom Zillich

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