The Alberta Party is taking sides in the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital dispute. In a letter, leader Stephen Mandel criticizes the provincial government’s move to remove Graham Construction from the project without a concrete timeline for when it will be finished.
“As a cost-plus contract, I still find it hard to believe that the government is blaming the contractor for the increasing costs of a project where government can’t make up its mind and made over 600 change orders to the project,” Mandel says. “On top of that NDP somehow expects that, magically, there would be no costs associated with program changes and the associated construction. I expected this kind of inexperience when the NDP were first elected, but after a couple of years I can only blame it on incompetence.”
Infrastructure Minister Sandra Jansen announced in September that the province had fired the construction manager, after issuing it a Notice of Default at the end of July. Graham Construction disputes that it was let go, claiming instead that it ended its contract with the government in August. The province says it rejected that.
Last month, Alberta Infrastructure said it expected to hire a replacement by the end of October in order for construction to begin again in November. Currently, the exterior of the building is finished, and the interior is reportedly 75 per cent complete.
“We’re now left asking the questions that Government does not want us to ask,” maintains Mandel. When will a new contractor be hired? How much extra will this cost? What will be the new completion date? Will the NDP government actually decide what it wants, or will it continue to make changes and see this project’s cost balloon even further?”
No update on the hiring of a new construction manager has been given so far. Before the Notice of Default was issued, construction on the hospital was expected to be done by the end of 2019, with the doors opening to the public in 2020.