There’s $1.4 million for the planning of replacement of the Weyburn General Hospital in the April 6 provincial budget. While Minister of Health Paul Merriman didn’t have a specific timeline available, Weyburn’s MLA Dustin Duncan was able to shed some light on it.
“The 2021-22 budget provides $20 million to support ongoing capital projects, including the Prince Albert Victoria Hospital’s redevelopment, urgent care centres in Regina and Saskatoon, long-term care facilities in La Ronge and Grenfell, and the replacement of the Weyburn General Hospital,” the budget documents say. Of that, $1.4 million is for the planning stage for the Weyburn hospital, $5.7 million is slated for the planning of urgent care centres in Regina and Saskatoon, and $1.4 million is for ongoing work on the program and design plans for Prince Albert Victoria Hospital.
Asked about what is happening with the replacement of Weyburn General Hospital, Merriman said, “We’ve got seed money in this budget to be able to do to work on that. So we're working with Sask. Builds, and other arms of the government, and working with community consultation to be able to get that Weyburn hospital up and running as fast as we possibly can.
Asked for a timeframe, he responded, “We haven't got the timeframe nailed down right now. We're still in the process of working it out. There’s a large consultation process that we have to go through with any large build like this, but it is moving forward to where we're hoping to get it done as soon as possible.”
However, Weyburn-Big Muddy MLA and Minister of Education Dustin Duncan was able to elaborate a bit further. He said the Saskatchewan Health Authority has hired the “owner’s representative.”
“They'll go through the process of essentially putting together the (request for proposals) package for the design-build that will go out to tender later this year. And then, best case scenario is it can be awarded, say, early in the new year. Then, it would be awarded to a design-build construction company, and construction would follow after that.”
Duncan said that as far as he was concerned, the timelines that went to cabinet when the item was approved either last summer or last fall are still in effect. “As far as I know and am concerned, it's moving on the timelines that the cabinet approved.”
Asked when they might scratch dirt for the start of construction, Duncan said, “I’m hoping in the new year, early in the new year, we can award a contract. Once that’s let, by that time, the SHA and the city will have an agreement on the land, and it’ll be turned over to the SHA. And then once it’s turned over to the design-build company, they can hire the dirt movers and they can start prepping the land.”
Mayor Marcel Roy said he was a bit confused to hear that there were funds for planning, as there had been money for planning for the last couple of years.
“When they announced the project, they said they would be starting construction by the fall. Is this just a reallocation of the funds we had for planning before?” the mayor asked.
He added that he’s been around enough construction projects here to know if a project isn’t ready to go by the fall, it’s better to wait until the spring to get going on it.
Meantime, Mayor Roy said Weyburn area residents should be expecting quite a nice health care facility, if they consider that the new elementary school and new recreation-culture centre being built is worth about $45 million altogether, and the new hospital will be worth between $80 to 100 million, not counting the equipment.