The province says the construction manager of the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital is in default. The Alberta government has issued Graham Construction and Engineering a Notice of Default, meaning it has 15 days to submit a plan for how it will get the project back on schedule and in line with its contract.
If it doesn’t, the company could be fired. Minister of Infrastructure Sandra Jansen says it recently asked for another $120 million, something the province doesn’t feel is justified.
“We don’t have confidence that $120 million is something that makes sense to pay out. Because we had no changes to the budget, we don’t know what the problem is… and we haven’t been given any documentation that would justify that extra money.”
Jansen says she’s confident Graham Construction will come up with a mitigation plan in the next 15 days. If not, the province will be looking for a new construction manager, which the minister says would happen in the early fall of 2018.
“Our concern is that this project would drag on. We don’t have a lot of confidence right now that it would be completed on time and certainly not on budget.”
The new hospital was given the go-ahead by former premier Ed Stelmach in July 2010 with an initial budget of $520 million, and construction set to take from July 2011 to the fall of 2014. That increased to $621 million in 2012 when it was also revealed the opening date had been pushed back to 2017.
However, after the new NDP government was elected, it revealed the hospital’s most recent budget of $647.5 million was overrun by nearly $90 million and completion wouldn’t happen until 2019. The Grande Prairie Regional Hospital Foundation expects to still get the keys next year, but doors won’t open to patients until 2020.
“I think we have been concerned for some time about the pace of construction and about the requests for more money,” says Jansen. “We have tried very hard; we have spent a significant amount of time working with Graham to try to get to a place where we all found some agreement and we have not done that so far.”
Jansen says their 2016 agreement was for $510 million and completion by the end of 2018. At this point, she reports that the exterior shell, the base building, and the mechanical and electrical work is about 98 per cent done, but interior construction is only about 70 per cent complete and landscaping about 65 per cent done. The primary wall framing is completed, and the secondary wall framing is nearing completion.
Grande Prairie – Wapiti MLA Wayne Drysdale is disappointed but not surprised by further delays, as he says there have been issues with the project all along. The former PC Party Infrastructure Minister supports the government taking action against the contractor.
“I want to be realistic; I don’t want to blame this government for everything, because we had issues when we were there. There’s no sense in doing the blame game; let’s just get the project finished for our region.”
We’ve reached out to the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital Foundation for comment.